The 2023 Naperville Saint Patty’s Day 5k Race kicked off in downtown Naperville Saturday morning with a larger crowd than last year.
“A lot of people were yelling in their green gear so I liked it,” said runner Isabella Gyori.
A Resurgence in Race Attendance
A Naperville tradition, the event took a hit a few years ago with the onset of the pandemic but is now seeing a resurgence, says Race Director Ryan Siebert. The number of runners and walkers exceeded 1,000 people this year. While he says that’s not quite up to par with pre-pandemic race attendance of around 1,500, it’s better than last year’s.
“This year, I felt like the community was really excited about it again,” said Siebert. “I feel like the previous couple of years were like, ‘Why are they doing this?’ and now people are very engaged and we’re getting a lot of sponsors coming back to us. So it’s really exciting.”
As the first 5k of the year, the Saint Patty’s Day race is not only an early celebration of the holiday but also the kickoff to the competitive running season for many.
“I am very jazzed up,” said Kim Haake. “I had just found out that I won my age division, so I’m super excited about it because I really didn’t think I was going to run that fast this morning.”
But for others, it’s less about competition and more about the atmosphere and personal accomplishment.
“I feel pretty awesome, especially because I did it with my dad and this is my first race that I’ve done,” said Allyson Ebersolb.
“I did pretty good, under 30 minutes,” said Michael Starr. “I think it was just a fun, energetic fundraise.”
Race to Give Back
While fun, the 5k is also a way to give back. The organizing group, The Rotary Club of Naperville Sunrise, donate race proceeds to various charities each year, with this year’s going to Little Friends Center for Autism, the Inside Out Club, and the YMCA.
“Take a look deeper into it,” said Siebert. “It’s not just about the runners, but what we do to the community.”
To encourage participants to dress in their best Irish green garb, there was a costume contest with the winner earing some green of her own, a $100 prize.
“My girlfriend actually invited me to do the race, and she’s an avid runner,” said Jennifer Marvin. “She said, ‘We really go all out for this race.’ So I’m like, okay, I’ve got to get my costume game up. I kind of went shopping and this shirt spoke to me.”
To top off the race was a Saint Patrick’s Day staple, green beer! This event is the city’s 14th annual and precedes the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade each year on the Saturday before the holiday.
If you have a story idea, send us a tip!