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Shamrock Shuffle slated March 18

March is shamrock season on the running calendar.

It’s fun to dress in green and celebrate the serendipity of good luck that our Americanized shamrock represents. But along with the joyousness of the season, one local race recognizes a deeper emotion.

Semper Gratus means “always thankful” and is the theme for the 7th Annual Shamrock Shuffle 5k and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk held this year on March 18. Ian Coyle, president of the locally-based Semper Gratus charity, expresses thanks to the community of West Leechburg and to participants who continue to support and grow the event.

Although a sudden snow kept some away last year, more than 250 braved the elements to run or walk the Shamrock Shuffle. Coyle credits local authorities for keeping the streets open and run-able. He hopes for better weather and predicts that this year’s participation may top 400 for an event that has grown every year.

No matter the weather, participants will enjoy pre- and post-race festivities indoors at West Leechburg Fire Department’s Social Hall where participants can pick up packets or register on race day. There will be swag bags for at least the first 300 and t-shirts on a first come, first served basis for those who register after March 1.

The family-friendly event includes a DJ, face painting, balloon artist, costume contest and several vendors. Kids can meet Disney princesses from the movies Frozen and Moana or superheroes Captain America and Thor. Post-race snacks include Gatorade, Smiley cookies, fruit and more.

On the run, the certified course for both the 5k and 1-mile winds through the residential streets of West Leechburg. Runners can expect spectators along the course that Coyle describes as hilly, but not too hilly for hand-cycles. Participants may walk either distance.

Friendly dogs on leashes (and costumes) are welcome and will take home their own doggy swag bag. And kids in strollers are also welcome with a free registration.

Overall male and female finishers earn gift certificates while competitive awards in the 5k include top three male and female finishers and age group awards for ages 10 and Under through 60+. There are no awards for the fun run/walk, but all are encouraged to dress in their finest seasonal attire for the costume contest.

As is traditional with Shamrock Shuffle, the costume contest is judged by the event’s guests of honor. This year’s honorees are Seneca High School students Kacy Christensen and Sarah Vescio, this year’s Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Student Visionaries of the Year. The two have raised more than $5,000 in honor of blood cancer patients and survivors and will share their inspiration and motivation.

Shamrock Shuffle 5k is only half of the day’s fun. Semper Gratus also holds Small Town, Loud Voice from 6 to 11 p.m. at the Social Hall. This St. Patrick’s Day-themed party for ages 21+ includes music, dancing, an open bar with beer, sodas and water and light bites. Attendees can bid in a basket auction with more than 70 baskets, 50/50 drawing and several raffles.

Ian says that 65 percent of race participants also attend the party. Along with the frivolity, there’s a reminder of the event’s more serious purpose. This year’s guests of honor will be parents of Eva, a North Hills 6-year old who suffers from a rare condition caused by genetic mutation. They hope to raise awareness of their daughter’s condition and the fight to find a cure.

After all the day’s fun, that’s the real purpose of Semper Gratus. As Ian Coyle states, “Raising awareness is our intention. Creating hope is our mission.”

Register for Shamrock Shuffle 5k and 1 Mile online until race day at Check out last year’s frosty but joyful Shamrock Shuffle 5k at And visit to be inspired by this organization’s “Always Grateful” mission.

Upcoming events

Saturday, 9 a.m.: March Mad Dash 5k, 5 Mile and 10 Mile, Allison Park. Run around North Park Lake.

Saturday, 9 a.m.: St. Patrick’s Distance Festival, Erie. Run 5k, 10k or both. Starts at Presque Isle State Park’s Rotary Pavilion.

March 18 10 a.m.: Trout Island Tromp 4.6 Miles, Sharpsville. Run on Trout Island Rail Trail, Race 2 in MCTA 26.2 Series. 724-301-6775 or

March 18, 10 a.m.: Shamrock Shuffle 5k and 1 Mile Fun Walk, Leechburg. Costumes encouraged, dog friendly. Also Small Town, Loud Voice Dance Party at 6 P.M.

March 19, Noon: Burn Empty Calories 5k, Meadville. Staged from Voodoo Brewery. All participants over 21 received a voucher for one beer.

March 19, Noon: Burning Empty Calories 5k/10k, Pittsburgh. Staged at Voodoo Brewing on North Shore River Trail. 412-523-8742 or

March 25, 7:30 a.m.: Shamrock Shuffle Half Marathon, 5k and 1 Mile Run/Walk, Harmony. Challenging, hilly course. 5k starts at 10 A.M., 1-Mile at 11 A.M.

March 25, 8:30 a.m.: Just a Short Run, Allison Park. Choice of 5k, 8.1 Mile, Half Marathon or 30k in North Park. The 8.1 mile race is part of USATF Three Rivers Grand Prix Series.

March 25, 9:30 a.m.: Barnesville Park/Rotary Lake Trail 5k Walk, Run and Fun Run, Barnesville, OH. Hand-crafted trophies, food, commemorative hooded sweatshirt or long-sleeved t-shirt, free fun run. 740-310-2117 or

March 25, 10 a.m.: Kiski Area Shamrock Run 5k, Apollo. Out and back from Kunkle Park.

April 1, 10 a.m.: Easter Egg Dash 5k, Bunny Hop 1 Mile and Kids Easter Egg Hunt, Butler. Start and finish at Butler High School’s Art Bernardi Stadium.

April 1, 10 a.m.: Helicon Brewing Food Truck 5k Run and 1 Mile Walk, Oakdale. Flat, fast, out-and-back on Panhandle Trail. Post race party with free pint of beer and food truck voucher.

April 1, 10 a.m.: Fool’s Run 5k and 10k, Black Lick. Run out-and-back on Ghost Town Trail from Saylor Pavilion.

April 1, 11 a.m.: Cook Forest Half Marathon and 5k, Cooksburg. Gently rolling out-and-back along Clarion River. 724-554-9511 or

April 8, 10 a.m.: MKG Half Marathon, Sandy Lake. Run on paved bike path around Lake Wilhelm, Race #3 of MCTA 26.2 Series. 724-301-6775 or

April 8, 9 a.m.: Dirty Kiln Trail Races at Canoe Creek State Park, Hollidaysburg. Choice of 10k or half marathon.

April 16, 9 a.m.: Run to Breathe Half Marathon and 5k, Portersville. Out and back course on Moraine State Park paved bike trail starting at McDanel’s Boat Launch.

Race results

Cupid’s Chase 5k, Feb. 11: Ron Liscio, 1st Overall M, 19:19; Jim Haughey, 2nd Overall M, 20:16; Jeffrey Gardner, 3rd Overall M, 21:55; Leslie Kramer, 1st Overall W, 22:10; Catherine Hrach, 2nd Overall W, 24:08; Melissa Good, 3rd Overall W, 24:39; Thomas Hawk, 1st 12 & Under M, 21:57; Paul Rohler, 1st 50-54 M, 22:02; Ben Dymond, 1st 20-24 M, 22:54; Kenneth Hareza, 1st 35-39 M, 22:57; Eli Fox, 1st 13-19 M, 23:38; Cooper Matassa, 2nd 13-19 M, 23:43; Lucas Bowser, 2nd 12 & Under M, 24:38; Matt Drohan, 2nd 50-54 M, 24:43; Jacoby McKinney, 3rd 12 & Under M, 24:46; Jessica Greco, 1st 40-44 W, 25:19; Kelsey Burris, 1st 25-29 W, 25:29; Mitch Radella, 1st 55-59 M, 26:26; Kelley Murdock, 2nd 40-44 W, 27:11; Ed Masta, 1st 60-64 M, 27:55; Christopher Gust, 2nd 55-59 M, 27:58; Kim Platt, 1st 45-49 W, 28:01; Cary Dworek, 3rd 55-59 M, 28:35; Tabitha Bowser, 3rd 45-49 W, 28:54; Glenda Haun, 2nd 45-49 W, 29:28; Jesse Burris, 1st 30-34 M, 29:30; Heather Alter, 3rd 45-49 W, 29:30; Alex Yaple, 2nd 30-34 M, 29:30, Thatcher Matassa, 3rd 13-19 M, 29:48; Sophia Bonetto, 1st 13-19 W, 29:48; Isaiah Jackson, 3rd 30-34 M, 39:11; Bobbi Hartsock, 1st 30-34 W, 30:58; Tasha Werner, 1st 50-54 W, 31:05; Lori Haughey, 2nd 50-54 W, 31:26; Stephanie Eagal, 2nd 30-34 W, 31:38; Vicki Brendlinger, 1st 60-64 W, 32:07; Bernadette Tichenor, 1st 55-59 W, 32:27; Paul Johnson, 1st 70+ M, 32:32; Sara Ott, 2nd 25-29 W, 32:46; Pamela Preston, 3rd 50-54 W, 33:12; Anthony Sunseri, 2nd 70+ M, 33:41; Corinne Woodward, 1st 35-39 W, 34:24; Kayla Hareza, 2nd 35-39 W, 34:51; Camryn Bowser, 1st 12 & Under W, 34:58; Megan Winters, 3rd 35-39 W, 34:59; Randy Bowser, 1st 40-44 M, 35:02; Bella Miller, 1st 13-19 W, 37:23; Beth Skinner, 2nd 55-59 W, 37:44; Brittany Best, 3rd 30-34 W, 38:21; Bill Updegrove, 3rd 50-54 M, 41:01; Bob McVey, 3rd 70+ M, 41:23; Sharon Snodgrass, 3rd 55-59 W, 41:37; Margaret Kasunic, 2nd 60-64 W, 43:55; Rebeccah Rodgers, 2nd 13-19 W, 49:26; Alexandra Kerkan, 3rd 20-24 W, 49:27; Valerie Lager, 3rd 60-64 W, 50:50; Kaitlyn Luxbacher, 2nd 12 & Under W, 54:26; Amelia Parker, 3rd 12 & Under W, 56:21; Ted Parker, 1st 45-49 M, 57:42; Andrew Grossmann, 30:16; Ethan Hrach, 30:22; Lisa Kaplon, 34:25; Douglas Skelly, 35:02; Timothy Hawk, 38:22; Colleen Gearhart, 38:34; Lee Codispot, 41:37; Tracy Rafail, 42:14; Lori Lynch, 43:55; Kimberly Bost, 44:24; Hannah Shannon, 45:57; Meagen Huff, 47:30; Lisa Casher, 48:48; Tiffany Updegrove, 49:21; Samantha Drohan, 50:15; Kim Kenetz, 50:32; Joe Rafail, 51:20; NaDesha Hubbell, 53:48; Brittney Allman, 53:49; Jennifer Luxbacher, 54:25; Lacie Parker, 57:42; Amber Omstead, 1:01:08; Brianna Bailey, 1:01:09

Shamrock Run 5k, March 4: Evan Conti, 1st Overall M, 17:44; Casey Columbus, 1st Overall W, 20:52; Jonah Montagnese, 1st 11-14 M, 18:14; Jesse Montagnese, 1st 11-14 M, 18:14; Cecelia Montagnese, 1st 15-19 W, 20:55; Zachary Cataldi, 2nd 40-49 M, 21:03; Pat Byrd, 3rd 20-29 M, 21:29; Craig Huba, 3rd 40-49 M, 23:03; Mia Fusco, 3rd 15-19 W, 23:08; Catherine Hrach, 1st 50-59 W, 23:59; Chrissy Lawlor, 1st 30-39 W, 24:28; Mitch Radella, 3rd 50-59 M, 24:54; Jeffrey Cobb, 2nd 60-69 M, 32:08; Joe Mulqueen, 3rd 60-69 M, 32:32; Marlee Sokol, 3rd 10 & Under W, 59:05; Logan Diaz, 23:26; Corey Price, 23:51; Tim Simons, 24:07; Ryan Maher, 24:23; Eric Hauff, 25:40; Eric Evanko, 26:20; Ryan Stelitano, 26:36; Sydney Smith, 26:41; Jennifer Martino, 27:11; Pace Zec, 27:21; James Sanders, 28:36; Herb Saturley, 28:47; Dylan Dickey, 29:32; Veronica Prefling, 29:41; Sara McClintock, 29:41; Gary McClintock, 29:57; Nathan Grande, 30:05; William Smith, 30:08; Marci Smith, 30:12; Ethan Hrach, 30:23; Samuel Montagnese, 30:54; Ashlea Eaton, 31:58; Blaise Meanor, 31:58; Judy Shaffer, 32:53; Megan Summerville, 33:23; Megan Winters, 34:49; Brad Kohler, 35:28; Darlene Mallory, 36:41; BethAnn Pohl, 36:43; Elise Cowden, 37:01; Robin Holz, 40:05; Kimberlee Dickey, 40:05; Brandon McFarlane, 42:54; Christine Black, 43:23; Lia Slifkin, 43:48; Rebecca Paez, 43:55; Mary Brooks, 44:01; Sara Petro, 47:30; Kayla Holt, 47:30; Christopher Mcgowan, 49:55; Kim Kenetz, 51:20; Susan Krol, 51:46; Paul Sever, 51:46; Donna Sever, 51:46; Jeffrey Krol, 51:47; Shayna Sokol, 59:06

Send comments and suggestions: Patricia Neubert. Phone 724-352-4395. Email

Pat Neubert is a running columnist for the Butler Eagle

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