40,000 expected to run in Shamrock Shuffle

March 23, 2012 4:22:54 PM PDT
Chicago's Shamrock Shuffle road race takes place this weekend. Forty-thousand runners will take part, making it the city's second largest race behind the marathon.

It's more than just a race. In Chicago, the Shamrock Shuffle has become an event. The expo has a carnival-like atmosphere as vendors market their products to 40,000 runners.

In its 33-year history, the shamrock Shuffle has grown to become the world's largest 8K race. That's just a smidge shorter than five miles.

"It's the traditional rite of spring," said race director Carey Pinkowski. "There is such a legacy of people who ran 10 or 15 years ago and are getting away from running and are coming back."

There are plenty of rookies as well, including Nikki Doig.

"It's a bucket list item. Figured I would do it, and never do it again," said Doig.

Tera Moody has won the race twice, but can relate to the average runners as well.

"It's a really fun event. It's low-key. I think it's a little bit more accessible to people than the marathon," said Moody.

"There are serious runners as well, but it's about having fun, and that's why I run," said Shamrock veteran Sharon Slover.

A new wrinkle this year is a media challenge, with teams of media -- including this reporter -- competing to have Nike and Bank of America donate $10,000 to the park district in their name. But we'll all be well behind the favorite, four-time U.S. Olympian marathoner Abdi Abdirahman.

"I'll say I let them win," Abdirahman said.

The course traverses through the Loop -- including past the ABC 7 Studios -- on State Street. That means there will be some road closures. That's also a rite of spring.