Leprechaun Run encourages people to get moving and wear green in Pacific Beach
If you’re strolling around Pacific Beach on March 11, you might notice some out of the ordinary things — like lots of green and a sea of leprechauns.
While a rainbow and pot of gold are not guaranteed, a shiny medal is available for everyone who makes it to the end of the fifth annual San Diego Leprechaun Run.
Once again San Diego Running Company, Discover PB and Team Hoyt are partnering to bring the festive leprechaun spirit to Pacific Beach.
After bouncing back in 2022 from a year break due to COVID-19, Eric Marenburg, chief running officer and co-founder of PB-based San Diego Running Co., said that with a little bit of luck, he expects this will be the biggest turn out in the event’s history.
Want to go?
San Diego Leprechaun Run
When: Saturday, March 11 — 5K at 9 a.m. and Kids 1K at 10:30 a.m.
Where: 912 Garnet Ave., Pacific Beach
Cost: $50 for the 5K, $30 for the Kids 1K in advance, $55 and $35 respectively on race day.
Register at: tinyurl.com/PB-Leprechaun-Run23
Good to know: Walkers and strollers welcome, awards for numerous age categories, starting at 14 and under and going up to 80-plus. No dogs permitted.
“We’ve typically seen about 1,500 participants and this year we’re on track to see more like 2,000 runners,” Marenburg said. “ It’s looking like a big year.”
The run was created with the intent of encouraging people to get moving and bringing more people in to experience Pacific Beach. St. Patrick’s Day is also one of the most popular running days of the year, according to Marenburg.
“You see a lot of running events on Thanksgiving with turkey trots, but for whatever reason, maybe that similar idea to do a run and then celebrate over drinks and food, it’s a great way to get out and get some activity first. We said, ‘Great, why don’t we see if we can put together a similar run like Santa Run in March?’ That’s where we began,” Marenburg said.
That goal of bringing people together from all over San Diego is clear. Marenburg said about 85 percent of the participants are usually from outside of Pacific Beach.
“For a lot of events, we try to make it for all ages and all abilities, whether it’s competitive runners, families in the 5K or the 1K,” Marenburg said.
The inclusive spirit of the Leprechaun Run took a big stride when the partnership with Team Hoyt was formed.
Team Hoyt is a nonprofit organization that advocates for inclusivity, making racing an accessible sport for individuals with disabilities.
Jim Pathman, founder of Team Hoyt San Diego, and his twin sons participated in the run in previous years through duo-racing, also known as assisted racing. Pathman pushes his sons in specially-crafted wheelchairs for the run.
“My son Riley and I have done 27 full marathons together,” Pathman said. “We’ve done hundreds of other 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, triathlons and now both of my boys are back into racing at 24 and they’re the motivators. They keep me moving and keep the rest of our community moving to keep up with what they want to do race-wise.”
Pathman’s sons have cerebral palsy and he first learned about duo racing through a Challenged Athlete event. After learning about it, he contacted Rick and Dick Hoyt, a father-son duo known for their duo-racing.
“I reached out to them out of the blue and said, ‘Hey, I’m trying to do a triathlon with my two sons who have cerebral palsy, can you help me?’ Then, we started to communicate. We got invited to participate with them at the Boston Marathon. We got to know the Hoyts pretty well,” Pathman said.
Through his experiences, Pathman and a few others connected with the Hoyts started their own chapter of Team Hoyt.
“The whole purpose of that is including kids, adults and families with people with special needs into the running community but more just into the community,” Pathman said. “His concept was, ‘Yes you can. We can do anything we want to do, even if you have a disability.’ That was an inspiration for us to do and start to include people.”
Pathman and his family will be running this year and others affiliated with Team Hoyt will be there as well.
“Even though we’re a community group based on inclusion, I can tell you that my sons sitting at the start line with their peers, who also happen to be in wheelchairs, are challenging each other to see who’s going to win,” Pathman said. “So it’s a really great experience to have that race experience for them because in a lot of parts of their lives they don’t have that where they can be like, ‘Well, I’m going to beat you. Oh yeah? Well, I’m going to beat you.’ It’s really a great opportunity for that but in a way that’s a welcoming, fun atmosphere and environment.”
For Marenburg and Pathman, the goal of this event is clear: Get connected to the community and get moving.
“My sons are 24 years old. And as parents know, with 24-year-olds, you get very little time communicating and being together as a family,” Pathman said. “Races like the Leprechaun Race have allowed us to schedule events that as a parent and my sons get excited to be a part of. We do it together.”
“Our focus for this event is very simple: It’s to drive more people to the community, have everyone have a super healthy, fun activity-based time and enjoy the Pacific Beach community afterwards,” Marenburg said.
Registration is open and will be offered the morning of the race. But Marenburg said registering earlier is better.
“We always say that depending on popularity, everyone in San Diego will wait till the last minute. So, we encourage (you) to sign up in advance,” Marenburg said.
Registration for the 5K costs $50 while the Kids 1K is $30. The prices go up to $55 and $35 on race day.
In addition to your running entry, registration covers a Leprechaun Run T-shirt, custom finisher medal, chip timing, custom bib, complimentary drink ticket to Mavericks Bar and free photos. Marenburg said everyone is encouraged to dress up and get into the spirit.
The 5K starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 11 and the 1K will start at 10:30 a.m. Guardians can participate in the 1K with their children. Pets are not allowed in the 5K.
The route will kick off at 912 Garnet Ave. (next to Bank of America) and will finish at the same spot. Post run, participants are encouraged to head to Mavericks to get drinks and food.
With the storms that have been hitting Pacific Beach, Marenburg also added that they’ll be there in whatever weather occurs.
“What we generally say is the events are rain or shine. We’ll be there. But hopefully shine!”
To learn more or register, visit tinyurl.com/PB-Leprechaun-Run23.