Top o’ the mornin’ to ye! For the Irish, St. Patrick’s Day is a centuries-old celebration of the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. For the rest of us, it’s an excuse to drink beer, wear green, pinch people, and of course, have a race! But before you start your St. Patty’s Day race planning, you’ll want to check out these tips to give your race all the luck it needs!
As St. Patrick’s Day is often thought of as a drinking holiday, you’ll want to first establish your audience. Is this a race for adults or are you aiming for a family-friendly event? Not only will this affect length and course type as usual, but it’ll heavily impact the vibe of your event and all aspects of race planning from race promotion to the kinds of festivities that are permitted or encouraged.
What Else is Going On?
It’s both a blessing and a curse that St. Patrick’s Day always falls on March 17. On one hand, it makes it easy to plan! On the other, it’s nearly guaranteed that you won’t be the only event in town that day. Get the word out to participants far in advance and be on the lookout for other races, parades and parties. If you can’t plan around the competition, try teaming up! There are numerous ways to form mutually beneficial partnerships: you can work with other race directors to implement a triple crown model and promote all of your races at once, or maybe your race can be part of the parade or end at the meeting point for the pub crawl!
St. Patrick’s gives us so many motifs to play around with leprechauns, luck, four-leaf clovers and all the rest of Irish folklore. If you can dream it, you can green it! Come up with a catchy name for your event like the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon or the Get Lucky 7k (with two more kilometers for extra luck)! Give out all-green gear and encourage racers to bring their own. Explore race swag bag ideas and Irish them up a little, be it a bottle opener or a green keychain. You can even get creative with your awards,– like a four-leaf clover medal!
St. Patrick’s Party
The post-race festival is essential to any endurance event and when it’s St. Patrick’s Day, you have no excuse to skip out! It’s the pot of gold at the end of the race course. You can serve traditional Irish fare like shepherd’s pie or Baileys and Guinness or, to keep things simple, just dye everything green! Host a green-themed costume contest or an awesome beard-and-mustache competition to keep the fun going. Bring festive props for a photo booth and if there are Irish entertainers in the area – like river dancers or bagpipe players – invite them to join the fun!
On that note, however, if you do decide to serve alcohol at your event, you’ll want to talk with your team beforehand to handle those that party a little too hard. You can consider developing a system to limit the number of drinks a person is allowed to purchase; giving each attendee a punch-card, for example. Of course, everyone’s limit is different and either way you should have the number of a taxi service on hand and distributed to attendees. Also, while vendors are trained on how to politely refuse service, your staff and volunteers may not be. If they are the ones responsible for distributing drinks, be sure they have proper training beforehand on when and how to refuse service to potentially angry people.
Alternatively, you can team up with a local Irish pub for the after-party! You’ll get the benefits of cross-promotion and you’ll be able to shift the responsibility away from your team.
Any St. Patrick’s Day race is guaranteed to be a sea of green. But you can stand out from the competition by “greening” your race even further with our eco-friendly race planning tips!
We hope this blog has helped you feel Irish and inspired! For more race management tips on themed races, check out our blog, “How to Pull Off a Themed Race”. It’ll provide more ideas on everything from race promotion to race award ideas. May the luck of the Irish be with ye!
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