VB Basics: The Shamrock Marathon and Race Weekend

Three generations of runners

The Shamrock Marathon and Race Weekend in Virginia Beach is a great time for the whole family! Read on to learn more about the events and meet some of the families participating.

Shamrock Marathon and Race Weekend

The annual Yuengling Shamrock Marathon Weekend, first held in 1973,  has quickly become a Saint Patrick’s Day tradition in Coastal Virginia. This three-day event offers a sports and fitness expo and races of all distances for everyone in the family. Whether you’re running the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon, the Operation Smile Shamrock Final Mile and Leprechaun Dash, or any distance in between, this is a fun weekend for all!

Living in Virginia Beach makes it nearly impossible to not watch a race or two a year, especially if you’re married to a runner – like I am. I must admit, I am not a runner. I’m content being a cheerleader on the side, cheering everyone on! Lucky for me – the husband takes running very seriously, and it has drifted down to our boys.

My older sons have participated in the Operation Smile Final Mile for the last 4 years during Shamrock Weekend. It’s a pretty cool idea – kids from local schools participate in running the entire 1/2 marathon mileage leading up to the Shamrock. They finish their “final mile”, on the racecourse in front of their cheering sections of parents, teachers, friends and fellow students. The weather in March in Virginia Beach can be all over the place. Some years everyone is wearing down jackets and still freezing. Other years the sun is shining, and it’s around 80 degrees outside!

Shamrock Final Mile Runners

People come from across the country to participate in the Shamrock Weekend Events. But it’s especially fun for the locals like my friend Karen.  She and I became friends through crafting, Etsy, and were early Instagram friends – how funny is that?

Before she was a member of J&A Racing team, she had an Etsy shop called “Fancy Fonts Shop” where she did hand lettering on basically anything your heart desires. You name it – Karen has probably “Fancy Font-ed” it! I promise. I really enjoy following along on Karen’s love for running over on Instagram. And it’s even more fun to see her out and about at races around town. So I asked Karen why she loves this particular race in Virginia Beach. This is what she had to say:

Karen P runs the Shamrock 1/2 Marathon

Shamrock Race Weekend has become a fun annual tradition in our family. My husband and I have run the 8k, half marathon, and marathon through all kinds of weather and circumstances life has thrown at us. Our two daughters have gotten in on the fun as well. Starting with the Leprechaun Dash when they were itty bitties, participating in the Operation Smile Final Mile with their school, and graduating to the 8k when they were strong enough to tackle the distance. Shamrock Race Weekend is such a great celebration of our city and our spirit, topped off with warm Irish stew and cold Yuengling beer.”

Be sure to follow Karen on social at @fancyfontsshop, or over at @J&A Racing’s Instagram page.

The Matzko family runs the Shamrock

More Shamrock Families

Virginia Beach residents, The Matzko Family, are also avid runners. Parents Kara and Mike couldn’t even add up the numbers of runs and races they’ve gone on over the years. Shamrock weekend used to be about Kara running the half marathon, and Mike running the full marathon. These days it’s about the three of them running with Reed as he runs his 4th Final Mile this Saturday. They look forward to the day when all three of them run together on the longer races on Sunday!

Another runner friend Kayce said of all the races she’s up and down the East Coast, and the Shamrock is by far one of her favorites. With the scenic course lined with beach views, and always packed with spectators, it gives motivation when it’s needed the most. “Running the Shamrock is a journey that begins long before we start our watches on race day, but it always ends with my favorite part; the family-friendly post-race party on the beach!”

Are you all running any of the events this weekend, or have you run in the past? Let us know in the comments! And be sure to check out the VB Basics Channel on FamilyApp for more great Virginia Beach activities.

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