Walk/run precedes South Side Irish Parade

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Parade path: The Emerald Isle Mile will be a walk/run the day of the South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade along the same path as the parade. It will start a couple of hours before the parade steps off. | Supplied photo

If you go ...

What: Emerald Isle Mile

When: 11 a.m., March 10; onsite registration from 9 to 10:30 a.m.

Where: The race runs along Western Avenue from 112th to 104th streets; registration is at Kennedy Park, 11320 S. Western Ave. Pre-register at runningexcels.com or at Running Excels store, 10328 S. Western Ave.

Cost: $20 registration fee

Information: www.signmeup.com/site/online-event-registration/89792


One hour before Western Avenue is transformed into the stage for the annual South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade, runners will take to the street to participate in the inaugural Emerald Isle Mile.

The run was conceived by Bev Lynch and Jim Pacente, the husband and wife team who own Running Excels, 10328 S. Western Ave.

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Lynch and Pacente are running enthusiasts who opened the athletic footwear, apparel and accessories store three years ago as an extension of their passion for running. The store sponsors other races and weekly run/walk clubs.

“Anytime there’s an opportunity for running an event, we speak up,” said Pacente, who’s competed in four Boston Marathons and the Chicago Marathon.

The couple actively supports the parade and was thrilled to see it return in 2012 following a two-year hiatus.

Pacente talked to organizers last year about adding a run to the festivities, but the focus was on the parade’s successful return, so the idea was deferred.

This year, however, his idea for a pre-parade run was enthusiastically received.

“Everybody is very supportive of it,” Pacente said. “It’s been amazing. The community of Beverly is always excited about new things. This is a healthy way to start off the Saint Patrick’s Day parade.

A worthy cause

A portion of the run’s registration fee will be donated to Special Olympics Chicago. Parade organizer James “Skinny” Sheahan is a former president of the organization.

The one-mile run begins at 11 a.m. at 112th and Western Avenue with onsite registration held from 9-10:30 a.m. at Kennedy Park, 11320 S. Western Ave.

The run is open to anyone who can run or walk a mile in 15 minutes or less. Families are encouraged to participate, Pacente said.

“This event is not for the speed demons; it’s for families too,” he said.

Stroller, bikes and skates are not permitted in the run.

The run wraps up at 104th Street and will be followed by an awards ceremony in the parking lot of Running Excels. Runners will be treated to ice cream, and the top male and female performer will receive a $100 gift certificate to the store. Top male and female finisher in several age categories also will receive prizes.

The $20 registration fee can be paid at the store or on its website: www.runningexcels.com. All pre-registered participants will receive a dri-fit T-shirt and an invitation to march in the parade with the Running Excels.

“Anyone who entered the race can walk with us,” Pacente said.