Overcast skies and gloomy rain may have sent some people indoors, but the participants at the St. Patrick’s Day run saw it as a challenge — a challenge to run faster! And that’s exactly what the energy was like at the run on Saturday, March 11. People everywhere were gearing up to get their sprint on and support a good cause while they were at it.
The race offered a 5K course for avid runners and a one mile fun run course for those who didn’t want to run the 3.2 mile course but still wanted to show their support. Special Olympics Oklahoma athletes also got the chance to participate in an exhibition run to showcase their skills and remind everyone that they were running to benefit Special Olympics Oklahoma.
“The run raises funds for Special Olympics Oklahoma and Tulsa Running Club,” explained Marketing and Communications Director of Special Olympics Oklahoma Donna Ham. “The funds generated by the St. Patrick’s Day Run benefit the 11,600 Special Olympics athletes residing in Oklahoma and assist us in providing not only sports competitions and training but also in providing the athletes with so much more.”
The race also offered lots of activities as well as tons of festive spirit. “The run provides the community with a family-friendly event with activities for children such as inflatables, face painting, a costume contest, Southwest Dairy Farmers mobile classroom and the one-mile fun run,” comments Ham. People came decked out in their best St. Patrick’s Day gear, taking pictures with their running mates and joining in the festivities.
Participants were also encouraged to engage in some friendly competition. Local schools with the most participants in the one mile fun run received cash prizes. The Corporate Challenge pitted business teams against each other in a variety of categories including fastest team, most participants, and best team costume. This was all in addition to the competition between friends so see who could run faster.
The race itself went off without a hitch. The one mile fun run was first in the lineup, beginning at 8:30 am. Next, the Special Olympics Exhibition Run, the overall crowd favorite, began at 9:15 am, with the 5K bringing up the rear at 9:30 am. While only the 5K was timed, the crowds still cheered everyone at every moment, motivating them to move as fast as they could.
“The Special Olympics exhibition run allows the athletes to be recognized as they head toward the finish line, the street is lined with other runners and spectators who applaud and cheer giving the athletes a great sense of appreciation for their achievements,” Ham concludes. “The Special Olympics exhibition run, frankly, is the very best part of the entire St. Patrick’s Day Run event.”
The race concluded with some celebratory music and dancing. Volunteers handed out water and fruit to the finishers, and awards were handed out to the top three male and female runners. In each age group. “It was a lot of fun,” says participant Melissa Rethford. “It felt good to do something that was good for your body as well as the community.”