The Shamrock Shuffle

This is my new favourite St. Patrick’s Day tradition.


Sunday was the Shamrock Shuffle, a casual “4-kish” event put on by Pete Ferguson of Pete’s Pub in Saint John and Alex Coffin, one of New Brunswick’s top runners.

It was chilly with a brisk wind, but that didn’t stop 55 people from coming out for what would be most people’s first running event of the year. The run has been going on for nearly 10 years and Sunday’s event raised more than $670 for the Saint John branch of the Canadian Cancer Society.

April and Jenn Pritchett enjoying a Guinness after the run.

“What a great turn-out,” Ferguson said as he poured me a Guinness after the run. I had already enjoyed a free steaming bowl of Pete’s famous chilly. I told him how much fun he had and he tossed me a free Moosehead cap. What a nice guy.

Ferguson’s pub, in the base of City Hall, is a local landmark. It’s a hole-in-the-wall type of place with loads of character. Along with the sports memorabilia and newspaper clippings adorning the walls, there are a myriad of running bibs. Ferguson used to be a runner himself until he suffered a knee injury.

Coffin organized a fun event with lots of awesome prizes. He picked random “magic times.” The closest competitor to each time won a $50 gift certificate to his store.

John Van Dusen won a $50 prize for getting a "magic time."
John Van Dusen won a $50 prize for getting a “magic time.”

A few of my media friends joined me for the race, which made it fun. Mark, my boyfriend, came along too (which was a welcome surprise yet unexpected, since he hasn’t gone for a run all winter, except a few jaunts on the treadmill).

We weren’t really expecting too big of a crowd, but more and more green-clad runners filled the halls outside Ferguson’s little pub. Before long it was time to head down to the starting line – a lighthouse at the beginning of Harbour Passage.

Before Coffin started the race, Mark playfully asked if I wanted to race him. “Sure,” I said, thinking, Yeah, I’ll whoop him.

We headed out fast. I slowed a bit, and Mark did too. But we managed to stay near the front of the pack. I kept up the speed for most of the race – which turned out to be only 3.6 km long. On the home stretch, I amped up the speed. So did he.

Mark beat me. Again. It’s those long legs of his.

“I just run like a horse,” he said later, in pain.

My time was 18:15 at a pace of 5:04 minutes per kilometre. I don’t think I’ve ever run that fast! It gave me a place of fourth out of the female participants.

Of course, it’s such a short distance that it’s easier to keep up the pace. I’m sure a 5-km pace would even be a little slower.

I won a toque for getting fourth!
I won a toque for getting fourth!

In the end, the feeling was exhilarating. There was a buzz at the finish line and we all had smiles on our faces. First run of 2013, check.

Watch CBC’s coverage here.


Published by

April C

Writer, editor and mom in Saint John, NB.

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