Green wigs. Tights and tutus. Some kilts. A guy barbecuing bacon on the grill for runners who pass by. A father pushing a stroller with triplets up an impossibly steep and long hill. Portland microbrews and a medal that doubles as a bottle opener for 15k finishers.
You see it all at Portland's Shamrock Run. With 35,000 participants, it has grown to be the second largest running event on the US west coast.
It is the unofficial start of Portland's running season and it's Portlandia through and through.
This year my Irish running attire will include the O Nike Fuel Band ;).
I'll be running for fuel points and, unexpectedly, for some kids up on the hill at Doernbecher's Children's Hospital who dream of running with us.
As part of my training for the Nike Fuel Executive challenge, I am running the 15k event in the Shamrock run with the KGW team. What better way to train for the Wild Canyon Games at the end of May? I was invited to take part in the games that include trail runs, geocaching across steep hilly terrain, obstacle courses and team events that require agility and stamina.
Our teams also compete for the most fuel points earned on our fuel bands.
A 15 k up miles of hills sounded like the perfect preparation with a lot of potential points.
That proved to be true. I also found the run isn't just about fitness and having fun being Irish for a day. It benefits very sick children at Doernbecher's. Over the past 18 years, the Shamrock Run has contributed over half a million dollars to help the kids at Doernbecher's.
While doing a story for KGW, a sponsor of the Shamrock Run, I met Alex Fleming, an 18 year old freshman at the University of Portland. She has battled serious kidney disease since she was a freshman at Sunset High School. Her illness forced her to drop off the school's cross-country running team.
Through treatment at Doernbecher's, she's learned to control her disease and has been able to run again. She feels so grateful to the hospital that she is running the Shamrock and raising money for Doernbecher's.
She's not running for fuel band points. She's running for her future and for the future of the kids at the hospital.
Alex will continue to give back. She is studying to be a nurse. Her kidney doctor thinks she should be a pediatric nurse.
My redheaded Irish daughter, Kate, is also a nurse. I have a deep admiration for the work they do.
Alex has inspired me to run not only for myself and my personal Nikefuel Executive Challenge, but also for others. I plan to support Alex in her fundraising efforts.
And it comes back to saying yes to the challenge in the first place.
I was afraid.
I tried to make excuses not to do it.
But, in taking the NikeFuel Executive Challenge, I'm following a path a lot like a lucky Irish rainbow. If you chase the pot of gold, you don't know where it will lead, but it's enriching to discover the treasures along the way.
Let's go run the Shamrock!