The running o' the green

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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.

<strong>Healdsburg St. Patrick's Day Parade:</strong> For the past 18 years, a ragtag crew of barflies and Irish sympathizers have gathered at the B&amp;amp;B Saloon in Healdsburg every St. Patrick's Day at 7 a.m. for a motley parade that crowns a new queen before marching down Healdsburg Avenue.

But when the B&amp;amp;B lease was not renewed after 27 years and John &amp;amp; Zeke's bar took over the space at 420 Healdsburg Ave., many feared the Healdsburg tradition would die.

Well, fear not, says longtime B&amp;amp;B bartender Edie Bradley, who pours drinks daily at the temporary B&amp;amp;B location at the corner of Dry Creek Road and Healdsburg Avenue (next door to where they're building the new, permanent B&amp;amp;B).

"I told the guys down at John and Zeke's we're coming down to help at 6 (a.m.) and there will be people gathering in the parking lot for a parade at 7," Bradley said.

Starting at 6 a.m. Monday, John and Zeke's will be serving "all the Irish drinks," followed by corned beef and cabbage at 4 p.m.

So if you want to help keep the tradition alive, Edie and the gang from the B&amp;amp;B will be gathering before 7 a.m. Monday for the 19th annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in Healdsburg.

<strong>Murphy's Irish Pub:</strong> A Sonoma tradition, the line will start forming down the brick alley that leads to this classic pub off the plaza when Murphy's starts pouring Guinness at 11 a.m. Monday. Live music and dancing get going by 3 p.m. Free. Murphy's is at 464 First St. E., Sonoma, www.sonomapub.com.

St. Paddy's Concert &amp;amp; Celebration with Wild Green: Marilyn O'Malley and Wild Green work up a few jigs, and Thistledowne and Laura Shafer and Paul Henry share the stage on Sunday.

A traditional Irish dinner follows the show. "Sliding scale admission" benefits the Sebastopol Grange and its "efforts to promote small farms and healthy living." Show starts 4 p.m. Sunday at the Grange Hall, 6000 Sebastopol Ave., Sebastopol.

<strong>St. Patrick's Day Luncheon:</strong> Meadowcroft Wines gets the party started early, at noon Saturday, with Irish ballads by Stephen O'Malley and Irish home cooking by Chef Darby, who trained at Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork, Ireland. Save room for Irish Farmhouse Cheeses, Ballymaloe Lamb Stew and Banoffee Pie. Admission: $35 wine club members, $45 nonmembers. Meadowcroft is at 23574 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, <a href="http://www.meadowcroftwines.com" target="_blank">www.meadowcroftwines.com</a>.

(Bay Area freelancer John Beck writes about entertainment for The Press Democrat. You can reach him at 280-8014or john@beckmediaproductions.com and follow on Twitter @becksay.)

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