Article Credit: MassLive
HOLYOKE — Runner’s World magazine recently ranked the upcoming Holyoke St. Patrick’s Road Race fifth in a nationwide roundup of St.Patrick’s Day themed runs.
Providence, Rhode Island topped the list, followed by Des Moines, Iowa; Boulder City, Nevada; and Columbia, South Carolina.
The road race steps off Saturday at 1 p.m. at Maple and Lyman streets.
Olympian John Treacy considered the 10K Holyoke race a “miniature Boston” marathon, with “crowds lined each step of the way,” the magazine wrote. The race transforms into a giant block party once the final runners cross the finish line.
Depending on the weather, race organizer expect 6,500 to 7,5000 will cover the 6.2-mile course, which snakes through Holyoke’s neighborhoods, with barely a steep hill missed.
About 65 percent of registrants are returning runners.
Devin Sheehan, the parade committee president, said what began in 1976 with 176 runners, has become a must-attend event for fans and runners, who fill the downtown race day.
“Tens of thousands of spectators will congregate in downtown Holyoke to enjoy the entertainment provided by the Mummers and other bands at various establishments, to reconnect with old friends, and cheer on the runners, Sheehan said.
The 2019 will edition will honor Tommy Leonard who died in January. Leonard, who received the 2009 Citizenship Award, ran in 25 Boston Marathons and founded the Falmouth Road Race, considered one of the top races nationally.
Leonard was one of the “founding fathers” of the Holyoke race, Sheehan said. “We will miss seeing his smiling face at his usual spot at the start line.”
For years, Leonard often held court at the Eliot Lounge in Boston where he bartended. The lounge on Commonwealth Avenue was a must stop for world-class runners who considered Leonard a legend.
The parade committee also welcomes new broadcast partner The CW Springfield to the 68th edition of the parade on Sunday, March 17.
Rich Tettemer and Tamara Sacharczyk, of 22News, will anchor the broadcast, which reaches households across the region. Barry Kriger will conduct on-street interviews. CW Springfield replaces longstanding station WGBY.
Billed as Holyoke’s annual homecoming, upward to 400,000 parade-goers line the 2.5 stretch, which begins on Northampton Street at the Kmart Plaza and concludes near City Hall.