Lucky Leprechaun Run fits Utica’s mold

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published January 29, 2014

UTICA — For some, it is not too early to start thinking about St. Patrick’s Day. More than 60 people already are registered for the Lucky Leprechaun 5k walk/run and green mile walk/run on March 8, starting with a costume contest at 10 a.m. Race director Tom Gray said that downtown Utica is the perfect venue for an Irish-themed race, since Irish and German immigrants founded it in 1817 and there is the Shamrock Irish Pub, Muldoon’s Tavern, Shamrock gas station and two other bars — all within a city block. Gray said last year’s race was successful with 471 runners who took advantage of a course featuring three bridge crossings, the “World Famous Graffiti Tunnel” under M-59, and scenic views of the Clinton River and historical Victorian and Greek revival homes on Cass Avenue. Last year, organizers were able to give $5,000 to the Parks and Recreation Department and $2,500 to the Macomb Children’s Hands-On Museum. The Lucky Leprechaun Run replaced the Parks and Recreation Department’s Fun Run, which for 21 years attracted people to the city, although it never garnered more than 300 people, Mayor Jacqueline Noonan said. “I think (the Lucky Leprechaun Run) is a great event. It lets people know about downtown Utica,” Noonan said. “We were looking for a signature event to bring people to downtown Utica, along with the Riverwalk and ice festival.” The costume contest this year will take place at 10 a.m. with categories for best male, best female and best pet. Winners will receive free entry into the Weekend Warrior Race in Armada for any distance, including the full marathon. “Last year was fantastic. I was there all day helping with as much as I could — with water and giving out prizes for the best dressed,” Mayor Pro Tem Russell Barthelmeh said. “Their dogs were dressed, they were dressed up, their kids were dressed. It was phenomenal, I thought, the way they participated.” After the costume contest, the race will launch at 10:30 a.m. from the Shamrock Irish Pub. An award ceremony will follow near the finish, at the intersection of Auburn Road and Cass Avenue, with a disc jockey and refreshments. All participants will receive a T-shirt and finisher medal, and prizes will be distributed for top finisher, top male overall, top female overall, top masters male and female, as well as for the top three finishers per age bracket. “This is Utica’s largest-ever running event,” Gray said. “I think we have a shot at 1,000 (participants).” For costs, registration, volunteer opportunities or more information, visit There are various costs for the different runs and walks, starting at $20 for the mile distances and $30 for the 5k distances through Jan. 31. There will also be race day registration available at Utica City Hall beginning at 8:30 a.m.