• Prize for Runners who Catch the Leprechaun
Q&A with Mike McKenna
Why is this race so fun and popular?
I think the popularity of the race is due to a couple of things. In a nutshell, it’s a fun race that supports a great cause. There’s an endless sea of 5Ks and we tried to give the runners something they won’t get at other races. It’s a night race which features a bagpiper, prizes for people who finish before the Leprechaun, pots of gold for the winners and a post race party. It’s different and I think people appreciate it. While we try to appeal to everybody, we focus on the avid runners. It was important for us to create a fun, family friendly atmosphere, but we knew we also needed to concentrate on race operations. Anybody can throw a party, but not everyone addresses the needs of the serious runners. They are the ones who will complain if things don’t go right, but they are also the ones who will come back every year if they go well. The timing of the race also attracts runners who are training for the Bridge Run. If you are looking to test your legs before you run the 10K, it comes at a perfect time.
Over the past few years, Catch the Leprechaun received tremendous support from our friends in the running community, our sponsors, and the staff at Pattison’s Academy. We are very fortunate to have a pool of people who are willing to provide us with the resources we need to put on the race.
What’s new and different this year?
We have a few changes this year. For starters, Lowcountry Loop Trolley will be providing a free shuttle to and from the race. They will be picking people up from Dunleavy’s and the Hampton Inn and dropping them off after the race is over. Egan’s Spirits will be giving out beads to the runners and they will also be offering a discount to anyone who brings their bibs to their grand opening on March 16 & 17. A discount at the liquor store on St Patrick’s Day weekend might come in handy for some people. Rather than having multiple bands, we decided to go with one band. This will make it easier for the awards ceremony and it will also ensure the band gets more playing time. In addition, the prize money has gone up by almost 50%, we added a costume contest, and we will have a drawing for a free class at Exhale Pilates. Turnkey Creative put together a retro design for the shirts which I think people will enjoy.
Talk about the costume contest and why you wanted to make that something more. Should people think more than just wearing green clothes?
Our runners have embraced the St Patrick’s Day spirit and we have seen some great costumes over the years. I think the contest will encourage more runners to dress up and it will add to the festive atmosphere. I am not sure what our judge will use as the criteria, but I’m pretty sure just wearing green clothes won’t cut it.
Did last year’s Runner’s World mention make that much of a difference?
The Runners World exposure was fantastic, but at the end of the day I think most of the people that came to our race didn’t see the write up. The people who run Catch the Leprechaun are more likely to read about us in the Post and Courier than in Runners World.
What has been the growth of this race?
We had 319 finishers in 2010, 693 in 2011 and 880 in 2012. If my math is right, we increased the race 175% in 3 years and we are currently on pace to beat last years numbers by over 20%.
This was the first race at MtP Waterfront Park. Since then, many are using the course. Does that, in a way, hurt the possibility of it growing/
I don’t think it hurts our race. We have an excellent relationship with the town, the police, the staff at Mt Pleasant Waterfront Park, and the businesses in Patriots Point.
What are the caps on this race?
How many do you think it can hold?
Talk about Pattison’s and why it’s the charity of choice? What does Pattison’s use the money for?
Pattison’s Academy is a school for children with multiple disabilities and the money goes towards programs which provide them with much-needed physical, speech, and occupational therapy along with specialized educational instruction and support. In addition to being a very worthy charity, Larry’s son Will attended Pattison’s and his wife Julia was on the board. We have received tremendous support from Sloan Cooper and the staff at Pattison’s throughout the years.
Y’all (Mike and Larry) work well together. How did you meet and talk about the working relationship?
Larry and I were introduced to one another by Megan Mahoney. Megan worked at the Pattison’s Academy Summer Camp and when I told her I was thinking about organizing a race she suggested that the proceeds should go to Pattison’s. I lucked out because Larry was involved with the school and he happened to be the President of the Charleston Running Club. I don’t think I could have found a better person than Larry to help me with the race. Things clicked right away.