Chicago is known for being a world-class running city, and also attracts some top talent. This year, 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon team member Abdi Abdirahman will join the field. In years past, the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K has drawn many top runners including record-breaking runner and U.S. Olympian Deena Kastor, who set the 8K world record at the 2005 event.
"People in Chicago get a kick out of running with some great athletes," Pinkowski says. "It has some real extremes. There are Olympic medalists, but there are also a lot of individuals who use this as their first event or first run. There's just a great tradition."
3. It's just plain fun.
At a St. Patrick's Day run, you're bound to find people dressed like leprechauns or wearing green tutus. At the Kiss Me I'm Irish Run in Glendale, Arizona, you even get awarded for it as the race offers costume prizes in several divisions and even an award for cutest pet.
Race founders and directors Kathleen and Darry Toupkin named the race based on Gaelic Storm's song "Kiss Me I'm Irish," which has become the race's theme song. To go along with that theme, all finishers receive a kiss at the finish line.
"Candy kisses," Kathleen says. "There were 200 pounds of chocolate given out last year. It's a little different and fun."
The Kiss Me I'm Irish Run offers 4K, 8K and 17K distances. The 4K is a "four leaf clover run/walk."
"We hide shamrocks along the course," Kathleen says. "If people find a lucky shamrock, they win a prize."