A St. Patrick’s Day Celebration on the Run-- Ras na hEireann, USA
Springtime—party time. The Race of Ireland and the United States is more than a 5K run and walk in Somerville, Massachusetts. It is a big time celebration. This will be about as much fun as you can have at a road race. The Irish know how to run, and they know how to throw a party.
Posted Monday, 6 December, 2004
There will be a strong touch of the spectacular Emerald Isle in Somerville, Massachusetts on March 19 and 20, 2005. This race will be a gem, all right, and will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a really big way. The first two years were a build up to a fantastic celebration next March, and you will not want to miss this terrific party and spring tradition. What a way to kick off the new racing season. And this year it will be a two-day affair. This Ras (race) and Craic (party) are green through and through. Yeah, dripping green. And everyone not there will be green with envy.
New and Expanded
The Somerville Striders Athletic Club and the Boston Triathlon Team, hosts of the event, have announced several changes for this third annual celebration. It will be a two-day party this round with a Ras Expo on Saturday, March 19, sponsored by Marathon Sports and Mizuno. Boston Billy Rodgers will attend the Ras Expo. The Marathon Legend will be signing complimentary Ras na hEireann U.S.A. 5Km posters, and will also run the race Sunday, March 20, celebrating with all other runners.
Also on Saturday evening, the “Taste of Ireland” dinner will be held, featuring many traditional Irish dishes and traditional pre-race foods as well. The Celtic band DownDog will play on Saturday night, and will also be one of several Irish bands playing at nine different pubs and restaurants hosting the post-race Craic or party.
The racecourse is a USATF certified 5K, a change from the 3.4-mile tour of the first two seasons. The course runs through an eclectic mix of great neighborhoods, beginning at Davis Square, and including Teele Square and Ball Square. It ends on the famous Minuteman Bike Path approaching Davis Square. Championchip timing from Granite State Race Services will precisely measure everyone’s time start to finish.
Speaking of the Craic, it will be expanded. The Olde Magoun Saloon in Magoun Square, Sauce in Davis Square, and Rudy’s Café in Teele Square have been added this year as hosts of the post-race party. They will join Redbones, the Sligo, the Joshua Tree, the Burren, and Orleans Restaurant and Bar—all in Davis Square--as well as P.J. Ryan’s in Teele Square as host establishments. They will all offer tasty Irish food, Irish music, and an open bar for a full hour following the race. Tea and scones will be available in the VFW George Dilboy Post for those who prefer non-alcoholic beverages, or want to have an enjoyable post-race time with friends, spouse, and children. Irish brown breads and Scones will be supplied by the Greenhills Traditional Irish Bakery, Dorchester, Massachusetts, and by Carberry's of Somerville, Massachusetts.
Another innovation for 2005 will be custom made Finisher Medals for all runners crossing the line. Just imagine these nine fine establishments full of runners wearing those beautiful custom T-shirts and unique medals. Good food, good music, and great traditions: This has the makings of a post race party like no other.
Strict Limit—Don’t Get Shut Out
It is bigger, and the field limit has expanded to meet the demand. Still, the size of the field must necessarily be limited because of the accommodations and the course. Race Director Paul Collyer insists on maintaining a really high quality experience for all participants. Ras na hEireann U.S.A. 5Km is the most genuine Irish race this side of the Atlantic. Runners the world over—and walkers too--are invited to Somerville, Massachusetts to enjoy a memorable race and St. Patrick’s Day celebration. But don’t get shut out. The cap is 2,000; there were over 1,100 the first year, and nearly 1,700 last year. Demand this year will be through the roof.
Ireland—what an impact it has had considering the size of the country. For St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish. At the Ras na hEireann U.S.A. 5Km everyone will feel like a winner. How can you go wrong? And remember, Boston Billy Rodgers will be running with you, and enjoying the pre and post-race atmosphere—Irish music, Irish food, and an open bar! Wow!
This race was born in Ireland. It was named in honor of the famous original, the Ras na hEireann International Cross Country race in County Louth, Ireland. Some of the same runners who run on the Emerald Isle in the original Ras, will be coming to Somerville to participate with their cousins and friends. In fact, this year there is another Ras, the Ras na hEireann in Melbourne, Australia, set for St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.
These absolutely terrific events are oceans apart, but they are as close as the powerful heritage and history, the magic and mystery that causes all runners to feel Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Three races, three continents, and all pure Green, they are. The Ras honors the rich heritage of a people who cherish their land and ancestors. Everyone’s own traditions and heritage are made stronger when honoring Ireland’s national holiday.
The Real McCoy
It’s the real McCoy, if you pardon the expression. This is no superficial “St. Patrick’s Day”. This, my friends, is “Beannachtai na feile Padraig”, or Happy St. Patrick’s Day, for real. Some terrifically hard work has gone into making this a genuinely unique and enjoyable experience. And as a result, this event offers about as much fun as you can have in racing. As successful as the first two were, this year promises to be even greater. It will have the genuine feel of Ireland. The Irish Race Director has visited Ireland several times in order to plan and insure the genuine atmosphere and traditions.
Innovative and Unique
Innovation is the hallmark of this race, which has many unique features. During the week before race day there will be two scheduled days when you can register (if available) and/or pick up your ChampionChip, race bib#, and T-shirt at Marathon Sports, the store for runners and walkers. Ask for owner and race sponsor Colin Peddie, and get a 20% discount while you’re there.
Upon arrival in Somerville on race day, things will be different right from the beginning. As participants arrive Davis Square (a stop on the famous MBTA Red Line), they will find a friendly, well-planned welcoming committee. Race-day registration (if available) will be at the VFW George Dilboy Post, and will be separated from the race day pickup--ChampionChip, number, and T-shirt—also located at the VFW George Dilboy Post. It will be runner-friendly--no waiting, no confusion. Somerville, Massachusetts, especially Davis Square, hosts more races than any location in the USA.
Other Awards and Rewards
The T-shirts are of the highest quality and unique in design with an ancient Celtic theme. Check out the unique race logo on the Web Site. The dolmen is an enormous structure of stone (the capstone is sometimes over 40 tons), dating from about 2000 BCE, or 4,000 years ago. They stand today in Ireland, millennia after they were built, and they are among the many marvelous mysteries of Ireland. This may be the most unique shirt you will ever be awarded.
Cash awards will be offered for the top six women and top six men, and there will be an additional bonus if either winner is from Ireland. The total cash prize package is $2,350.00. Additionally, there will be more divisions than at most other races, including 16 traditional age groups divisions, plus nine different weight divisions—two for Fillies and seven for Clydesdales.
There will be three awards exclusively for natives of Ireland. And finally there will be six division awards for Pub Teams. The Irish Pub competition offers engraved medals to honor the fastest two-person teams, women’s open and masters, men’s open and masters, and mixed open and masters. The pub competition is one of the many enjoyable highlights. Unlimited team rosters may enter from any Irish pub, and the top two score in the quest for the highly coveted Sporting Paddy Gaelic Cup awards. There will be two Sporting Paddy Gaelic Cup awards in 2005 with one going to the fastest women's Pub team and one for the fastest men's Pub Team.
All medals and awards will be mailed out within two weeks post race and the cash prizes will be distributed in the Back Room of The Burren in Davis Square at 1:00 p.m. Winners must be present to receive cash prizes.
2005 Ras na hEireann International Cross Country Race, Termonfeckin, County Louth, Republic of Ireland
The original Ras is a series of cross-country races in 14 different divisions from youngsters 9 and under up to international stars. Race distances vary accordingly, from 600 meters for the youngest to 6,000 meters for the big stars. Racing is open to all, including separate masters divisions. The races will be held 27 February 2005.
These races have been held since 1971, growing year by year. And in recent years the International Division has included many world-class stars. Cash awards will be offered in the senior/international races, both for individuals and for teams. Club runners will compete on the same turf as the elite international speedsters. The Ras na hEireann International Cross Country Race is hosted by the Dunleer Athletic Club.
Men and women’s cross-country racing has deep roots in Ireland. Club racing—very strong on the Emerald Isle--is primarily cross-country, as compared to predominately road racing in the USA. Termonfeckin, County Louth, is approximately half way between Dublin and Belfast, located near the East coast on the Irish Sea.
Ireland is a small country, about the same size as South Carolina, with a population of about 3.7 million, or about the same as metro Boston and vicinity. But there is so much to see and explore, from the many ancient dolmens to the remains of a thirteenth century cathedral at Tipperary, from pastoral villages to exciting cities. Sheer cliffs and crashing surf contrast with idyllic green valleys and green turf—often cross-country racing turf. Friendly people, secure and steadfast in their traditions and heritage, make the perfect hosts and enjoy having visitors. And many of them love to run. They are remarkably good at it.
Notice that the Dolmen serves as the race’s emblem and symbol. What is a dolmen, anyway? It is a prehistoric monument consisting of two or more upright stones supporting a horizontal stone slab or capstone. They were likely built as a portal or gateway to tombs or chambers to honor elders and leaders of the early residents of Ireland. Much about them remains mysterious and unknown even to modern science—the people and their structures. How were they built? For what reasons? How did the Neolithic people move and lift such massive rocks? Dolmens are among the many unsolved mysteries that make Ireland and its heritage, history, and traditions--so fascinating.
Don’t Miss the Fun
This is definitely your spring race. Make it a springboard to a terrifically successful and enjoyable season. You can tune-up for a spring season already underway, or shake off the winter blues and measure your fitness after a restful off-season. Join in the celebration. It is an appreciation of resolute determination and resilience—wonderful attributes for runners. See you in Termonfeckin or Melbourne. If that is not possible, see you in Somerville, for sure. Either way, it will be a genuine Ras and Craic. Beannachtai na feile Padrig—Happy St. Patrick’s Day. These races are for you—be there, and make it your day.