The running o' the green

  • Santa Rosa St. Patrick's Day 5k fun run on the Prince Memorial Greenway. Joshua Cervantes HO 2013

Beer, preferably Irish and not dyed green, is the libation of choice every St. Patrick's Day. It doesn't take a pub crawl to know it flows freely all day, at every bar, on March 17.

But at Santa Rosa's St. Patrick's Day 5K Race, you have to earn your beer — on foot, one kilometer at a time.

"We're trying to encourage everybody to do something active on a day traditionally known for drinking and eating corned beef and cabbage," organizer Adriane Mertens says. "Run or walk first, and then celebrate at the end with a beer."

Hosted by the Santa Rosa Recreation and Parks Department, the third annual road race doubles as costume contest, concert and convergence of food trucks. And at the finish line awaits a commemorative mug of Third Street Aleworks beer or craft root beer (depending on your age and preference).

The first year, around 350 people showed up for the timed race. The next year, 760 people came out, many in tutus, wigs and top hats for the post-race costume contest. So far, the youngest entrant has been 2 years old and the oldest 79.

"We see a lot of families every year, all dressed up together," Mertens says. "It's a lot more than just a race."

Before the mad dash to hoist your beer this year, here's how to sign up — and also a few more St. Patrick's Day shenanigans around the county:

<strong>Santa Rosa St. Patrick's Day 5K Race:</strong> This year, organizers expanded the 3.14-mile race to 1,200 participants (with six kegs of beer and a thousand cans of root beer). But there's still a chance it could sell out, so check the Santa Rosa Recreation and Parks website at <a href="http://bit.ly/1nljqKr" target="_blank">bit.ly/1nljqKr</a> for registration.

The race starts at 3 p.m. Sunday at Juilliard Park, 227 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa. Soup Sandwich supplies the live music. $45 late registration includes commemorative mug and one beer.

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