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April 14, 2024

Running in a sea of green to celebrate St. Patrick's Day

By MINGYUAN SONG | March 17, 2023

COURTESY OF MINGYUAN SONG Song ran the Shamrock 5k in Baltimore this past Sunday.

Hopefully, it is not boring to see my name on yet another piece about a running event because, this time, there is a celebratory twist! 

Growing up as an immigrant and coming from the West Coast, St. Patrick’s Day usually meant cluelessly going to school and getting pinched on the arm for my lack of green apparel. That’s where the holiday ended for me. So, this past Sunday, the Shamrock 5K and St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Baltimore was the first time I’d seen this festival in its full glory. Honestly, I was quite excited for it — I’d heard it’s a big deal on the East Coast. 

Back to the race itself. My teammates from the running club and I checked in at Power Plant Live! at noon, a refreshing change from the crack of dawn wake-up that we are used to. As soon as I got there, I instantly felt underdressed as the festivities were palpable in the air. Almost every member of the crowd was decked out in green with apparel like green stockings, full green suits, green tutus — anything and everything you could think of was in green.


I sported the free shirt that the event gave out (it was surprisingly comfortable), wishing that I had a green top hat to go along with it even though it might hinder the race. This was certainly a rare sight. At every other race you attend, no one is ever wearing the shirt that the event gives out, but the holiday seemed to bring people together more than usual. 

Bag check went smoothly, and the jog to the starting line was exactly one mile — perfect for a warm-up. The energy in the air was bustling as everyone lined up for the gun to start. 

The Shamrock 5K is a beautiful course that starts in Mount Vernon, leads down to Inner Harbor, takes you on a scenic route along the harbor front and Federal Hill and eventually ends at Power Plant Live! with a sprint. The course is almost an exact replica of the 5K course at the Baltimore Running Festival, which is incredibly flat with almost no elevation gain. However, it might be even better if you are shooting for a personal best in the 5K, since the first mile or so is all downhill and perfect for a fast start.

My friend and I crashed down the first half mile at a sub-6-minute pace, a product of the adrenaline and the downhill route. It was a grave mistake that caught up with us at the end, but it was fun while it lasted. The course was also very friendly to those who want to jog or walk it; the cheering along the route and the spirit that all the runners brought made for one of the best race environments that I had ever competed in. 

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade almost right after the end of the race. The parade also ran from Mt. Vernon to Inner Harbor. Many groups came down the wide avenue with matching green outfits, playing music or putting on some other kind of show. The most memorable, obviously, was the bagpipes. To me, it was an exciting end to a fun race. To many others, though, the 5K was probably just the kick off to the other festivities. 

I always feel partial to the running events around Baltimore — whether it is the Shamrock 5K, the Charles Street 12 or the Running Festival. To me, it is the best way to get to know the city and to explore the neighborhoods that I otherwise wouldn’t venture into. Every time that I line up with the other thousands of people there for the same goal, I feel part of the bigger community that makes up Baltimore.

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