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Nearly 2,700 runners enjoy St. Patrick's Day 5K at different speeds
Downtown was jammed once again Saturday for the 5K on St. Patrick’s Day as nearly 2,700 scrambled down Tejon Street for the kickoff of the Grand Prix of Running.
The race began in Acacia Park with overcast skies and a chilly breeze. Fifteen minutes later, the sun emerged as did the top runners.
Fort Collins resident Scott Dahlberg crossed the line first to win in 15:12. Dahlberg was followed 10 seconds later by James Strang, a former University of Arkansas runner who competed last summer in the U.S. Olympic 10K trials. Sean Brown took third in 15:24, finishing a few tenths of a second ahead of Austria native and Olympian Michael Weiss.
Christie Foster, who is hoping to compete in the 2016 U.S. Olympic marathon trials, cruised to the women's title in 18:04. Jennifer Hall (18:29) finished second and Ashlee Nelson (18:46) took third.
The 5K is a big draw for elite athletes and beginners alike as weekend warriors can mingle with current and former Olympians.
"There are probably 1,000 regular runners who show up every year for the run," race organizer John O'Donnell said. "The rest of the runners are usually new to running and new to the 5K. It's been that way for a long time. I think it's the novelty of the run."
The race is fun, a perfect opening act for the parade that follows. Participants show up wearing all sorts of outfits -- Irish kilts, tutus, leprechaun hats, shamrock antennae and Celtics jerseys. As long as it's green, it's en vogue.
Only a handful of runners have a legitimate shot at winning, but for the hundreds of others, it’s not about winning. These people run because they live in the Pikes Peak region and that's what people do here.
"Because it is tradition," replied Ryan Greenleaf when asked why he ran Saturday. "This race is the first race of the year for me. It's fun and it gets me motivated to tackle the rest of the year.
"Last year, I trained and ran my first marathon, Chicago 2012! It all started with the St. Patty's Day race! So for me ... it's more than a run."
The second race in the series, Take 5 in the Garden, is May 4.