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Thanks to improving COVID numbers and a staggered start, the Paddy Pint will run in person

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - The Paddy Pint will once again be a live spectacle in Prineville after the pandemic forced it to go virtual last year.

Get ready to see several green waves in Prineville soon.

After a one-year, COVID-induced break, the Paddy Pint returns next weekend. It will be the first live running and walking event of 2021, and only the second event of its kind held locally since the pandemic began.

The Paddy Pint will again feature a 2-mile walk or run, and a 5K and 10K run. It will start and finish at Pioneer Park on Sunday, March 14. The event will once again benefit Crook County Foundation and the Tooth Taxi.

"The Tooth Taxi is a dental delivery vehicle with a full-time staff that travels to help children with urgent or emergent care, especially in rural portions of the state," Dr. Tony Ramos of Ochoco Family Dental, who helped launch the annual event. "It is funded and run by the Dental Foundation of Oregon and has provided $7,880,331 of free dental since its inception in 2008."

Ramos said the run is intended to be a spectacle that grabs the attention of people as competitors and fun-runners complete the different routes. So, he encourages people to wear as much green and St. Patrick's Day-themed attire as possible.

"Costumes are encouraged and are a big part of the fun," he said.

The spectacle had grown in the years leading up to the cancelation of last year's event. According to Crook County Foundation's executive director, Brandi Ebner, organizers were expecting the 2020 event to far exceed the 2019 participation total of more than 500 runners and walkers.

"Our planning team spent the winter of 2019-20 gearing up for the biggest event yet – 700 runners/walkers was our goal," Ebner said.

Then, four days before the big event was scheduled, COVID restrictions finally hit Oregon, and gathering limits were reduced to the point it was not possible to host the Paddy Pint. It was rescheduled until May, and when it did take place as rescheduled, it was held virtually.

Virtual events, athletic or otherwise, have become the norm for the rest of 2020, with only one Splash 'N Dash 5K on the Fourth of July taking place live. But thanks to declining pandemic numbers, distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine, and collaboration with local health officials, Paddy Pint organizers were able to come up with a way to host the event live.

"We will be starting in waves of less than 50 people every 15 minutes," Ebner explained.

The run will take place, with its staggered starts, from 1-3 p.m., with prizes awarded on the Pioneer Park stage at 4 p.m. The Crook County High School track team will be providing food, and a live band will be on hand to entertain participants and spectators.

Typically, the start and finish area is a hopping gathering spot for participants and while large crowds won't be allowed, the park will still provide a place for people to gather and mingle.

"Face masks and social distancing is required," Ramos said, "but we will have a large space for participants to spread out. Also, some of the start/finish zone will have 50-person capacities, and we will be monitoring the count in these zones."

Costumes are not the only green element for the Paddy Pint. Those who enter the competition will get a swag bag, which this year will feature, upon request, more St. Patrick's Day-themed items.

"We will also have a swag store, at which is sold additional hats, scarves and other green costume items," Ramos added. "It will be open on Friday and Saturday (March 12-13) from 1-6 p.m. at Pioneer Park."

Also new to the event this year is a scavenger hunt available to anyone and an on-route treasure hunt for run participants. Scavenger hunt participants will look for St. Patrick's Day icons throughout the town. They are asked to take pictures with those icons and then upload them to Facebook with the Paddy Pint hashtag. Treasure hunters will take wooden tokens provided in their swag bags and drop them in entry pots along the running/walking routes. Prizes will be awarded for both events.

Ramos acknowledged how unique the 2021 Paddy Pint will be, and he is encouraging people to be follow the rules of the live event and ensure that it is a success.

"It will take respect by all participants to protect each other and stay safe," he said. "The plan for this event has no precedent, so everyone's effort to follow health recommendations, if successful, may open the doors for other community events to pattern themselves after."

Sidebar

The Paddy Pint is free for kids ages 5 and younger, $20 for youth ages 6-15 and $29 for advance registration for ages 16 and older. Day-of-race registration for ages 16 and older is $35. To register, go to www.paddypintrun.com.


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