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March 15, 2009 - Run, LoDo, Run

What: Lucky 7K Run and Walk and a 2.2 mile Irish Punt

Where: Downtown Denver

When: Sunday, March 15, 2009

Time: 10:15 a.m.

Beneficiary: Volunteers of America programs

Grand Marshal(s): Mike Fitzgerald, Terry McGrath

Founders: Mike Fitzgerald, Terry McGrath

Entertainment: Potcheen, the Colorado Youth Pipe Band, the Reed School of Irish Dance

Sponsors: McCormick's Fish House, Coors, ISU Insurance, KBCO Radio, 9News, Killian's Red, Shamrock Foods, Powerade, Larabar, Town & Country Foods, Runner's Roost, Qdoba

Attendance: 5500+

Attire: running gear

Event Coordinator: Heather Spencer

Blacktie Photos by: M. Darcy


 Fast Forward team from Boulder: Mary McMahon, Kay Martin, Dr. Diane Kallgren, Dr. Stephen Ho, and Sue Vanderberg
Fast Forward team from Boulder: Mary McMahon, Kay Martin, Dr. Diane Kallgren, Dr. Stephen Ho, and Sue Vanderberg

Run, LoDo, Run               by M. Darcy

Austin Strelinger has a secret identity. And he's running with his wife, followed by a swarming mob of 5,000 through the clean city streets. His kelly-green body suit zips over his head, turning his features into a blank mannequin's face. It also reflects the sun in such a way that he relies on Marcie's voice to direct his path. Austin is The Green Man. And today alone, with 5,500 other people, he is Irish.

Today is Sunday, March 15, and today Austin unleashes his alter ego on Denver at the Runnin' of the Green, a Lucky 7K Run and Walk and a 2.2 mile Irish Punt to support Volunteers of America. And he did it under 40 minutes. Not bad for Serpico's nemesis. This is a man who takes Runnin' of the "Green” seriously, and literally, a man who had the suit lying around anyway, and a man who knows how to have a bit of "craic."

Oddly enough, Austin isn't alone. Most of other runners are also dressed in green get-ups, even their dogs and infants. There's Abe “McLincoln” Russell wearing a false orange beard over his natural brown beard and sporting a leprechaun's top hot. Each year he, his wife Erica and friends make it about two miles into the race to the gas station where they may or may not continue, depending on alcoholic fuel. Heather Menke reveals her hoodlum side with a green mohawk. And then of course, there's Logan Huffman who is green all over. His mother was an O'Connell, he explains.

Many people were duped into the race. Sara Jacquin, a notorious instigator, signed up her Mother's Group of friends, Cinthia Raymond, Deborah Oderwald and Laura Hanson. They donned green tutus and became the Centennial Little Feet. All except Sara, who didn't get the memo. Boulderites infiltrated the race, Aussies and Brits too. A group of healthy people and doctors, calling themselves Fast Forward ran alongside the Denver Bulldogs, an Australian Football team. (didn't know we had one, did you?)

Hard to miss was a Londoner, David Jessup, draped in a British flag to spite his poor, Irish friend, Adam Killian, who runs the race each year but was sabatoged by his boss and sent out of town this weekend. There are around 70 races in Denver each year, most of them charity races, but Runnin' of the Green is one of the most popular. Daniel Lupa-Chazan, another Boulder infiltrator and a tri-athelete, says there's nothing like running in LoDo. “No traffic, the festivities and the people all make it fun,” he says. He also admits he does it for the free samples, revealing a plastic bag of swag from sponsors. Bill Berryman agrees with the location. “It's a good route, though it's somehow uphill both ways,” he laughs. “You can't beat running downtown, or the after-party,” he adds, holding up a beer.

Live music, a pipe band, Irish dancers and tables of cold beer are certainly a nice carrot for crossing the finish line. This is Carolyn Smith's first race. She auditioned for the tv show “Survivor” and is pleased with her 60-minute time. It might come in handy, should she make the show. As to why this race, “because I'm from Denver, and who else, and why not?” One of the best reasons to run, and the reason it was started 21 years ago by a couple of Irish runners, is the chance to give back to your community.

Runnin' of the Green raises funds and awareness for Volunteers of America, one of the largest and oldest non-profits in the country. Their reach is broad, providing over 30 distinct human service programs to Colorado's neediest – programs like Meals-on-Wheels, Head Start, homeless shelters and volunteer services. VOA helps those who have nowhere to run or who are running away from domestic violence. Their programs change the stories of struggling families, homebound seniors and people fighting addictions. Real-life super heroes are those in our community who help make things right. Whether you run in next year's race or stroll, your participation can change someone's story. Give a little of your luck back. Call VOA today and find out how you can get involved. Their number is 303-297-0408. Upcoming events at listed at http://www.voacolorado.org.

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