While St. Patrick's Day is known more in the United States for drinking beer, it's also one of the top "holidays" for themed-races.
This month, Running USA had nearly 500 St. Paddy's-themed races listed on its website, more than Thanksgiving Day, which Running USA declared last year as the top holiday for runs based on 2011 numbers.
Most have one of three words in the title: "shamrock," "leprechaun" or "green." Charleston has two of the three.
Catch the Leprechaun
The biggest race, Catch the Leprechaun, celebrates its 10th running at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park.
The event was reincarnated in 2010 by Charleston Running Club members Larry Schrecker and Mike McKenna. The previous Catch the Leprechaun, organized by On The Run store owner Irv Batten, was held in Park West.
Since 2010, the race has grown from 319 finishers to 880 in 2012; last year's race dropped to 815. If this year's weather cooperates, Schrecker says the race's goal of hitting the 1,000 mark could happen.
The event has the magic of combining competitive running with fun.
Runners are encouraged to wear costumes (though there will be no costume contest this year) and green. A bagpiper plays at the start, and there are prizes of "pots of gold" for the top finishers and for those who catch the leprechaun. The post-race event includes food, beer and live music by the Jefferson Coker Band.
Registration is $30. Proceeds benefit Pattison's Academy.
To capitalize on the St. Paddy's theme, the Summerville Family YMCA last year changed the name of its long-time Flowertown Festival Run, as it was known for more than three decades, to the Shamrock Shuffle.
The event, featuring a 10K, 5K run and walk, and 1-mile fun run, will be Saturday starting and finishing at the Y. The 5K starts at 7:50 a.m., the 10K at 8 a.m. and the fun run at 9:15 a.m.
Last year's 10K had 187 finishers; the 5K had 485 finishers. In all, the Y claims more than 1,000 people participated.
Along with the new name of the race, all participants are encouraged to participate in the Bring on Your Green Contest as the top three best-dressed Leprechauns or green runners will be recognized.
Other contests include a School Challenge for a $250 gift donation to their school library, courtesy of the Summerville Family YMCA, a Corporate Challenge, and a Win an iPad contest for high school finishers, donated by McElveen Buick Chevy GMC.
The cost for late registration is $35 for the 5K/10K races and $10 for the 1 Mile Fun Run. Proceeds from the race benefit the Summerville Family YMCA.
Individuals can register for the run/walk by visiting any Summerville Family YMCA location. They can also register online at ymcashamrock-shuffle.org.
Shamrock SUP Race
Wearing o' the green isn't limited to pavement this weekend.
The SUP world is getting in the spirit with the third annual Folly Beach Shamrock SUP Race from 1-4 p.m. Sunday at Charleston SUP Safaris and Flipper Finders.
Stand-up paddleboard races in the elite, recreation, dog and kids divisions will be on the Folly River. The fee is $45 for the elite and $25 for the kid and dog races. SUP rental boards are available for $10 on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The event benefits Youth 2 Ocean, formerly Salty Kidz, which seeks to get children outdoors to surf, paddleboard, do yoga and hike.
Daniel Island 5K
Another long-time race, the Daniel Island 5K Race and Walk, will mark its 16th year at 9 a.m. Saturday at Bishop England High School. The event raises money to maintain the school's track facility.
The late fees are $30-$35 for the 5K.
Holy Yoga, the nation's leading provider of Christian yoga, and Revelation Wellness, a ministry dedicated to creating healthy and whole lives in Christ, will be holding a wellness event titled "Jesus at the Core" on Friday and Saturday.
The event will be 5:30-8:30 p.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m. Saturday at Seacoast Church, 750 Long Point Road, in Mount Pleasant.
The free (there's a $4.95 online processing fee) two-day event offers Holy Yoga and Revelation Fitness classes and workshops, live contemporary worship music, Bible study, meditation and healthy refreshments.
Early online registration is encouraged at www.JesusattheCore.com.
Yoga in the Park
Yoga instructors Chelsea Atilla of Sola Yoga and Natalie Halt of Gather Yoga will hold a community based yoga class, featuring music by DJ Jake Butler, from 3-4 p.m. Sunday at Cannon Park.
The fee is a $10 donation. Parking is limited and participants are urged to carpool, bike or walk.
Reach David Quick at 937-5516.
A bagpiper typically leads runners and walkers in the Catch the Leprechaun event from Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park to the starting line.×
Even though the Catch the Leprechaun Run does not feature a costume contest this year, participants are encouraged to dress in all of their green, St. Patrick’s Day finery.×
Local runner Larry Schrecker (from left) with his son, Will, and Eric Ruckel revitalized the Catch the Leprechaun Run in 2010, which may draw up to 1,000 runners tonight.×