“The Race of Ireland” in Somerville, MA began about ten years back, and it has become a favorite tradition, marking the coming of spring, and celebrating Irish heritage. This year, at 11:00 am, on a cold spring Sunday morning, 5200 racers gathered in front of the Burren, the Sligo, Redbones, and the Joshua Tree on Elm street, in Davis square, where the race begins. Many of the participating pubs and businesses are Irish owned, and Boston based businesses Harpoon and Marathon Sports are sponsors. 

The weather was raw and clammy for the 2013 Ras na hEireann 5K. Dirty snow lined the streets and everyone was jumping around to stay warm. Pace signs cleverly divided the runners and costumed revelers into running classes. 

2013 Ras na hEireann 5K

The course starts in Davis and runs through Teele, Powderhouse, and Ball Squares then passes Tufts University and ends back in Davis on Highland Avenue. I was almost inclined to stop in for a pint when I reached P.J. Ryan’s in Teele Square, but I refrained, and ran up the slight slope to North Street to get to the longest stretch along Powderhouse Boulevard. 

It’s different running with other people than on your own. My pacing was much faster than normal at the beginning. Luckily, I didn’t bump into anyone and had enough room. I did end up walking part of the way, in part due to inexperience, being decrepit, and the slopes on the course. 

In the only other race I’ve participated in, the Hot Chocolate Run 2013 in Atlanta, it was so crowded that you couldn’t get through. That race, had around 15,000 runners, I think. People would walk or run together four abreast even though we’d been told to only go two abreast. It was weird being in Atlanta’s downtown financial district with no traffic — I’ll tell ya’, it felt like an episode of the Walking Dead. Another distinction was more people were cheering us on in Atlanta, which believe it or not, does make a difference. 

The course in Somerville is described as flat, but it actually has slight slopes and a very pronounced hill at the end of the course at Cedar street. Somerville is known as the city of seven hills, after all. I was very glad for the water break around the third kilometer, by the dog park. I’d been out the night before, and wasn’t well hydrated. I should remember to hydrate before a run. 

My iPod clocked the course at almost six kilometers, but Granite State Race Services precisely measures everyone’s time, and results are posted on Cool Running’s website. I was amazed I didn’t come in last in my division, very nearly, but not quite. People kept passing me, even walkers, but when I turned around to see if I was last, there’d be a long line of runners chasing me. Women in tutu’s, men painted green and people dressed in green wigs and capes seemed to run back and forth just for the heck of it, cheering their friends on. There were photographers along the course, so I’m hoping for some pictures that I can post sometime. 
Drinking a nice pint, surrounded by water.

Booths at the end of the race offered candy and drinks. Just what you need right? But it was awesome. Everyone got a nice hefty metal for participating and a tee-shirt. If you had the patience to stand in line, you could get a free beer or maybe a sandwich at one of the participating bars or eateries. It seemed like every business along Elm street was filled to capacity. We ended up going a littler further a field to find a place to sit down, and have a well deserved, delicious, pint.

About the run

Race Results 2013