Thursday, March 21, 2013


Sunday's Yuengling Shamrock Marathon was the 53rd of my career. Although my times aren't getting any faster, my travels across the country promoting my book,, and the motivational seminars I conduct, have provided a new, fresh perspective on the sport we love.

Whether one participates in a in a small local event, or a mega race, the same ingredients are required in order to conduct a successful race. The race, or races, should appeal to folks of all ages and ability levels, prizes should go to the best overall, and in age divisions, the course should be pleasant, and amenities should be plentiful. Oh, and did I mention that (if you're over 21) cold beer at the finish is a tremendous perk.

From the moment I was contacted by Event Director, Kristyn Hedley, I could sense the hospitality the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon  has become famous for.

Race officials promoted my seminars, and they were well-attended. It is gratifying to me to be able to pass along advice to runners, many of whom are competing in their first marathon or half marathon. One runner, Tom Coyle, was concerned that, despite good shoes and expensive socks, his feet would blister during his first half marathon. I told him to buy a big jar of Vaseline and slather it on his feet. He did, and I was happy to receive an email from him today telling me that, at age 59, he completed his first half marathon in 2:21:50, with no walking, and no blisters! I was also amazed when folks tweeted some of my advice from the seminar.

The City of Virginia Beach was extremely runner-friendly. On Saturday, my wife joined over 8,000 other runners in the Towne Bank 8K, and was inspired by thousands of cheering spectators. The local running club, the Tidewater Striders, added their expertise and volunteers to the races. The 8K also featured the Middle School Challenge, emphasizing fitness for the next generation. For even younger runners, the Operation Smile final mile featured a sea of youngsters, their parents, and baby joggers.

Sunday's marathon and half marathon were superbly organized. Volunteers were everywhere. Military personnel manned water stops, bands played, and spectators lined much of the course. At the finish, Leprechaun Bob managed to announce the names of nearly all the runners as they completed their races. Medal/beer openers adorned necks of finishers, along with a space blanket that's a real blanket. A cool Yuengling hat, awesome dry-wicking long sleeve shirt and a party, featuring live music, kept runners warm on a cool, wind-swept day.

From J & A Racing, the race directors, here are some of the race statistics.

  • Over 28,000 participants registered for the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon weekend, the largest yet. 
  • A course record was set in the Men's Marathon by Christoper Zoblacki of Essex, CT in a time of 2:17:49.
  • Over $320,000 was raised by our charity partners - LIVESTRONG, the Leukemia and Lymphoma's Society's Team In Training, Operation Smile, the Noblemen and Preston's March for Energy.
  • Murphy's Irish Pub served over 15,000 cups of Irish Stew.
  • The youngest participant was 6 months old, the oldest was 92 years young.  
  • 4,500 children made a commitment to run 26.2 miles in the Operation Smile Final Mile Program.   
  • Leprechaun Bob announced over 24,000 finishers.
  • We went through over 275 kegs of beer.
  • We recycled over 4,640 pounds of items at the finish.
  • Over 2,200 volunteers were out in full force throughout the weekend - They Sham Rock!!

    Congratulations to all runners, race organizers, volunteers and spectators. The Yuengling Shamrock Marathon is truly a fine event. I'll be back next year.