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Lucky Leprechaun Race leaves Utica seeing green

Stephanie Sokol for The Oakland Post

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People flaunted their green apparel and clover leaf accessories early this ??????????????????????????????? weekend, as Utica DDA hosted its first-ever
Lucky Leprechaun Race.

A costume contest gave 471 runners and walkers an opportunity to show off their St. Patrick’s Day style, while the 5K and Green Mile races encouraged physical fitness, according to Thomas Gray, chairman of the Macomb Health and Fitness Foundation.

“(It was) great weather and everything I thought it would be,” Gray said. “Once the runners assembled at the starting line, I think the community felt the power of so many people gathering for this race in their city.”

Tutu skirts, tinsel wigs and green tuxedo shirts were popular among runners. In ???????????????????????????????the costume contest, best group went to Traci Cunningham, Celeste Hall, Melissa, Shelby, Dakota and Kendel Evans, who called themselves “the Lucky Charms.” It was Dakota’s first race.

In the best adult costume, Sarah McCormick won first place for her green tutu look.

Max Woodford, who ran with his family, won best costume in the child category for his fluorescent green wig and cape. His mother, Danielle Woodford, said they were going for the “family superheroes” look. ???????????????????????????????

“We thought (the race) would be a fun family activity to kick off spring,” Dan Woodford said. “We started with the green clothing and went from there.”

First place in the 5K went to Danielle Miller of Clinton Township. She said ran for her father, Dale Miller, who has cancer.

Members of the Sterling Heights Chamber participated in the race, and volunteers from Macomb Children’s Hands On Museum and City of Utica Park and Recreation Department helped make the event possible, Gray said.

???????????????????????????????Sponsors included Team Fit, The Macomb Daily, Macomb Health & Fitness Foundation Inc., Renewal by Anderson, Health Quest, Muldoon’s Local Tavern, Rizzo Environmental Services and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Runners’ ages widely ranged from Harrison Hensley, 81, who ran the 5K, to Diana Vandoren, 2, who ran the Green Mile with her grandfather Richard Howell.

“I had a good time (running),” said Marilyn Myrna, Harrison Township resident. “This is my third 5k this year and was my best time so far. It was a good course. I’d never been through the graffiti tunnel. It was really fun.”

News Stories

Brooksie Way Returns to Rochester Hills

The fifth annual Brooksie Way Half Marathon and 5K Run took place last Sunday, drawing a crowd of over 4,500 people to run and walk, promoting wellness in the Oakland University community and beyond.

Origins of the race

The race and fitness expo were held in memory of L. Brooks Patterson’s son, Brooks Stuart Patterson. Money raised from the races funds mini-grants to promote health and wellness in the community. L. Brooks couldn’t attend because of his condition following a car accident Aug. 10, but the community still came to show support.

According to Laura Mutz, the director of communication development alumni and community engagement, nearly 600 race contestants were OU alum, students or employees. First place in the 5K race was Eli Nasr, freshman and biology major. Nasr has been running since eighth grade and has participated in many 5K races, but this is the first year he ran in Brooksie Way.

“It was exciting to run in Rochester Hills,” Nasr said. “It felt nice to win in my hometown.”

The university helps out

Other students participated, some experiencing their first 5K, including senior Ryan Borg and his friends, seniors Kyle Bell and Sean Alfan, all from Fenton. They decided to run for fun and trained for a month beforehand.

“The course was a little difficult with the hills, but the Meadow Brook area has such great scenery, so overall it was a good run,” Borg said. “My first thought when I crossed the finish line: I need some water.”

The university was also involved through their hospitality tent, where runners could pick up free hats and take a break with a healthy snack. The tent was made possible by University President Gary Russi, who also walked in the race, according to Mutz.

Competition wasn’t limited to the student body, however. Many residents from the Rochester area participated. Advocacy groups and local foundations participated as well, to raise awareness about their causes.

Running for your cause

Sarah Devitt of Saginaw and Kelly Woodford of Taylor were seen in McDonald’s prior to the race, since it was “the only place open in the area.” The two ran to get the word out about Project Awareness, an organization raising awareness for people with age-related STDs like Human Papillomavirus.

“We’re running to raise awareness about Project Awareness,” Devitt said. “The program’s goal is to get rid of the stigma and teach people stats about these issues.”

Jeff Schropp of Rochester ran his first 5K this year at Brooksie Way. His fiancé was running in the Half Marathon and the company he worked for, Meritor, was one of the corporate sponsors.

Barbara Barnes of The Upper Room in Rochester cheered for members of her youth group as they crossed the finish line.

“Our organization keeps kids off the streets,” Barnes said. “We help them help the community. I’m excited to cheer them on today.”

A successful endeavor

While there were many participants and volunteers, the 27 businesses sponsors, as well as many members of the community helped make the race possible.

“We’re very proud of the race,” Linda Davis of the Auburn Hills Community Committee said. “This was put together with the help of so much community support that made this possible.”

Get the full story here.