VIDEO | Braving the cold: Runnin O’ the Green draws 1,220 registered runnersChilly temperatures and heaps of snow on the starting hill didn’t keep revelers away from the 35th annual Runnin O’ the Green Saturday.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
Chilly temperatures and heaps of snow on the starting hill didn’t keep revelers away from the 35th annual Runnin O’ the Green Saturday.
Despite the 11-degree air, 1,220 runners registered for the event in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, which raised $13,200 for Elks Camp Grassick and local cancer patients.
“If all goes well, we’ll hopefully be able to make a substantial donation to Camp Grassick again,” said Larry Knoblich, founder of the Runnin O’ the Green. “… we had, obviously, a lot of people that didn’t show up because of weather conditions.”
The temperature difference between the 2012 and 2013 events was about 60 degrees, given last year’s high temperature of 71 on the day of the run, during which participants stop at pubs along a 3-mile route through Jamestown.
Many of the 2013 runners dressed for the temperatures, sporting green gloves, winter underwear, scarves and boots along with their green tutus, green fake beards, green hats and other costumes.
“I have footwarmers in my boots,” said Annette Hazelton of Kulm, who also wore extra layers to help keep warm.
Hazelton participates in the annual pub crawl every year, and said this year’s crowd was likely the smallest she’d ever seen.
“I like the sociality of it, and it’s just fun to see everybody dressing up — and in the end they make a lot of money for their charity,” Hazelton said. “And it’s fun to let loose for a day.”
Possibly due to the weather, participants waited until closer to the event’s start, 2 p.m., to turn up at Frontier Fort, where the Runnin begins.
“Normally, at this time we’re pretty darned busy,” said Andy Andersen, a trustee of the Elks and volunteer who helped with registration Saturday. “We haven’t seen a lot of the older ones, but if they signed up, they signed up early because of the weather.”
Before the run began, Knoblich said that given the weather, he’d be pleased to have half the registration numbers he’d had the previous year — 2,260.
“It’s going OK here, but obviously, you’ve gotta be a little goofy to be here today,” Knoblich said.
Even with the cold-induced smaller numbers, the run had still come a long way, Knoblich added. Just 40 people participated in the fifth Runnin O’ the Green, 30 years ago.
“To me, it’s just a labor of love,” Knoblich said, adding that he enjoys being able to help people with the proceeds of the run.
“We’re enjoying the run,” said Cal Babcock of Fargo before the event began. “It’s a very nice day out.”
“The sun is out. It’s amazing,” pointed out Amanda Clemens, also of Fargo. “… for me, it’s almost like a high school reunion. Everybody comes here to do it — lots of family and lots of friends.”
Babcock said she’d worn a few extra layers in order to stave off the cold, just like Hazelton did.
Before the event began, Hazelton was chatting with Mallory Bear of Jamestown, who has also done the run before — but had never before begun at the top of the hill.
Bear said she planned to go cautiously — likely a wise decision, given the snow and drifts on the hill between the Frontier Fort and the park.
Many of the people who tried to run down the hill at top speed took a tumble and landed in snowdrifts. Some runners who didn’t dress warmly enough came to regret that decision, too, especially after falling in the snow or losing a shoe along the route.
A few of the luckier sprinters made it across the bridge unscathed, but even some of the cautious ones ended up slipping in the snow, too.
As is usually the case, a small crowd of people gathered at the bridge in McElroy Park to watch the runners get down the hill — on feet, feet-first or face-down in the snow.
“I just love to watch them come down the hill in all that snow,” said Donna Fischer of Jamestown, one of the watchers.
By the time the runners crossed the bridge, they seemed to be in good spirits, and even the ones who had taken a spill and remained covered with snow had plenty of smiles for the people greeting them at the bridge.
“Where’s the first bar?” one runner said with a grin.
“Are we there yet?” another one asked, jokingly.
Other runners seemed slightly confused.
“There’s sand in my shoe!” one exclaimed.
“Are we warm, or are we not?” a runner wondered, perhaps simultaneously warmed by exercise and chilled by the 11-degree weather.
And then there was the runner who may have been celebrating something else entirely after he made it past the bridge.
“We got a new pope!” he exclaimed gleefully.
Erika Calkins of Valley City said she’d fallen three times while navigating the hill. It was her first Runnin O’ the Green.
“I will do this again next year,” Calkins said, adding she hoped it wouldn’t be cold again.
“It’s all about friends,” said Ben Kruse of Duluth, Minn., who drove six and a half hours to get to the run. He planned on doing it backwards, beginning with the last bars on the list and ending by walking up the hill to the Fort.
“My family’s here, so I decided to come back and see them this weekend,” said Amanda Thrift, of Fargo.
Thrift’s father, Tom Thrift of Jamestown, had always been working during the run in previous years, so he’d never had the chance to try it — so he and his daughter did the run as a family.
“It’s been pretty good. I didn’t fall, but a lot of other people did, so I didn’t mind,” Amanda said, adding she’d probably participate again — if the weather for the next one is warmer.
“I think it went well,” Knoblich said.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email at email@example.com