Craig Nowak, Batya Beard win their weight in beer at inaugural Shamrock Showdown 8k; Thousands of runners take to downtown Portland's streets for 45th annual Shamrock Run festival
Portland – MARCH 12, 2023 - There was a little bit of something for everyone at the 45th running of the Shamrock Run Portland on Sunday. The City of Roses propped up your typical late spring Portland weather: overcast, damp and a bit on the chilly side.
The St. Patrick’s Day holiday vibe was on full display and green was the color of choice. There were Irish Setters in attendance. Like music with your running? One hearty soul ran the entire 5k course while playing an Irish fiddle. And with nearly 20,000 entrants in the field, there were some fast times. For the first time in race history, Portland’s classic road race featured the inaugural Shamrock Showdown 8K. There was prize money on the line, plus the winner received their weight in beer.
Moments after crossing the line first in the 8k, Batya Beard of Tualatin, Ore., let everyone know what her motivation was. Said the former Oregon State runner, “I’m excited for the beer. That’s why I was pushing my body. I wanted my weight in beer. Let’s go!”
It was a late stampede to the finish line for the women with Beard winning in 26:44. Just four seconds back in second was Amelia Keyser-Gibson. Taking third was Allie Schaich in 26:50.
In the men’s race, Portland’s Craig Nowak hit the tape first in 23:17, 15 seconds ahead of Johnny Rutford, who closed a split-second ahead of Joe Freiburger.
Beard weighs 115 pounds. Nowak goes 160 pounds. That’s a lot of beer for the fridge, and Beard was strategic in making her way to the finish line.
“On the way out I kind of tucked behind the lead girls. There was a little bit of headwind,” she said. “On the way back, I ratcheted it up a little bit. That was all I had.”
Runner up Keyser-Gibson, who lives in Seattle, runs with Cascadia Elite and wanted to represent her running club.
“This is one of the most competitive road races and we wanted to have a presence here,” she said. “It was fun competing with everyone around us. People would start putting in surges and we’d try to cover them.”
Schaich recently moved to Portland from Denver and one thing has stuck out about the local running scene.
Nowak has recently worked as a high-profile pacer at a lot of track and elite road races, including the famed Carlsbad 5000. Seconds after crossing the finish line, he let it be known that he earned all that beer. For starters, he tossed aside his gloves and arm warmers during the race.
“This is awesome, I came out and watched last year and after seeing the event and the atmosphere, how electric it was I definitely wanted to be a part of it,” said Novak, who took the lead just after mile 2. “It’s nice to be able to race and put in effort on my hometown roads where I run every day. The turn out today was unbelievable, and to win your weight in beer? This is an event that’s hard to beat.”
Recognized as the race that kicks off the spring season and the most popular event in the Pacific Northwest, Shamrock Run Portland featured former Olympic Trials qualifiers, NCAA champions and NCAA All-Americans.
In the women’s 5K, Portland’s Carrie Dimoff will become a masters runner later this year, but at 39 she’s still got some speed, winning the distance in 17:11. Thirty-five seconds back in second was 31-year-old Megan Wagenaar.
Save for a couple years where she focused on the marathon, Dimoff has been a regular at Shamrock since 2006.
“Every spring it’s a good check for my fitness after winter,” said Dimoff, who successfully defended her 5k title after winning last year. “It’s my go-to race.”
Ian Pierson of Beaverton won the men’s 5K in 15:40. In a very close race, Robert McLauchlan took second in 15:43.
“We just had a blast out there,” said Pierson.
McLauchlan runs for the Jacuzzi Boys Athletic Club, which has two slogans: “Blood, sweat and beers” and, owing to the Jacuzzi name, “Turn on the jets.”
Third-place finisher Alden Roy said, “This is probably the most people I’ve ever raced in front of. It was a great atmosphere at the start line. Portland is buzzing today.”
The women’s 15K turned out to be one of the day’s most exciting races, with Sarah Reiter of Hood River, Ore., hitting the tape first in 52:25. Kaitlyn Peale of Portland claimed second in 52:37. Lyndy Davis of Eugene finished third in 54:30.
“This race is always fun because it’s such a local race,” said Reiter. “We all know each other. It’s fun to race people you see around. It’s a chance or everyone to come together and have fun.”
“There’s so much good energy out there,” said Peale, a U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier who trains with BTC Elite. “So many good runners to run with.”
Liam Meirow of Portland won the men’s 15K in 47 minutes, 15 seconds. Fellow Portlander Jesse Joseph was second in 48:38 followed by Seattle’s James Stadler in 49:18.
In the half marathon, William Thompson of Seattle won in 1 hour, 9 minutes, 37 seconds. Just 24 seconds back was Matthew Spear of Seaside, Ore. In a very close women’s half marathon, Riva Muehlbauer of Underwood, Ore., won in 1:21:57. Seven seconds back was Kellie Houser or Portland.
For complete results, photos and more, visit ShamrockRunPortland.com.