Get your green on and go for a run
Hundreds of people young and old clad in green and festive Irish garb gather at the starting line.
The starting gun fires, and the group begins its journey, some perusing a 2-mile course at every pace from strolling to jogging. Others willing to tackle longer distances and test their endurance choose the 5K course, while other more seasoned distance runners take on the 10K loop, a new option this year.
The Prineville Paddy Pint is back on St. Patrick's Day, a running event launched several years ago to support the Tooth Taxi, a mobile dental clinic operated by Dental Foundation of Oregon.
"It's a way to bring dental care to our youth who for one reason or another haven't been able to get a dental problem taken care of," explains event organizer and local dentist Dr. Tony Ramos. "In our state, we are trying to provide for all of our children, but it's hard," he said. "It (Tooth Taxi) is really meant to reach out to these rural communities like ours with needs."
The Paddy Pint, which begins at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 17, is equal parts fundraiser and spectacle, which is by design. People are encouraged to of course wear as much green as they can, and dress in whatever eye-catching, St. Patrick's-themed attire they can muster.
The event will once again start and finish in the heart of Prineville's downtown area, with a registration/gathering area staged on Third Street from Good Bike Co. to the Crook County Courthouse lawn. Participants will be treated to live music, a fire pit and two different fitness groups leading warm-ups — this time from a stage rather than a flatbed trailer like years past. And running sound and helping with announcements once again will be Studio Jay.
Given the unpredictable weather Prineville experiences in mid-March — anything from warm and sunny to blustery and snowing — Ramos said the start and finish area will feature a 100-by-40-foot tent this year, to keep people out of the elements before and after the run.
Participants will once again receive a racing bib with tear-off coupons for four different drink stops. Good Bike Co. and Sons of Beer will each provide a beer, Starbucks a coffee and Ochoco Brewing Company will serve root beer.
Ramos noted that this year, the Paddy Pint has enjoyed more local business support than ever before.
"It has been amazing this year," he remarked, adding that Robberson Ford will be the title sponsor for the first time. "It allows us to create a better event."
As the Paddy Pint has grown from 100 participants its first year to more than 300 last year, despite wind and sleet, organizers have branched out to support more organizations than the Tooth Taxi. For example, the event now partners with Crook County Foundation, which Ramos said has really helped funnel more dollars to community needs.
"On top of that, they are doing a kickback of some of our race fees back to each of the grade schools and the middle schools," he added, noting that each youth racer is counted and tracked back to the school they attend.
The money raised by Crook County Foundation goes to its recently formed Crook County On The Move initiative, which seeks to improve health and fitness among community residents.
Last year, the Paddy Pint raised $8,000 total, with $5,000 going to the Tooth Taxi, which Ramos said completes about $30,000 worth of dental work when they come to Prineville.
He hopes to see the event continue to grow, benefit more community organizations, and become an official kickoff event for spring in Crook County each year.
"This event is a time to meet your friends, colleagues, teammates or whatever in the community and have some safe fun," he said.
To register for the Prineville Paddy Pint, visit www.runsignup.com. Packet pick-up will be at Ochoco Brewing Company on March 16 from 4 to 7 p.m. or at the event site on March 17, the day of the run, from 1 to 3 p.m. The run begins at 3 p.m.