Morning 5K takes runners along the Wearin’ of the Green route

In the wee hours before the start of the Wearin’ of the Green Parade, an electric current of fun sweeps through the Garden District.

The buzzy vibe starts at daybreak, when floats file into formation along Hundred Oaks Avenue ahead of a 10 a.m. roll across Acadian Thruway. Party hosts along the route are also getting ready—tapping kegs, firing up Irish coffee and laying out spreads of green eats. Around Baton Rouge, revelers inch toward the Garden District, navigating increasingly thick traffic and street closures to nab coveted parking spots.

And in the midst of all this morning mayhem, a festive 5K run also takes place, sending hundreds of cheerful green-clad runners along a path soon to be occupied by floats, marching bands and bagpipers. First launched in 2019, the Shamrock Run gives participants a crack at a little virtue before the day’s inevitable indulgences.

Organizer Brittany Weiss Shingleton says that while the lead up to the parade might seem busy enough, adding a neighborhood fun run was inspired by the runners themselves.

“A year or two before we started the race, we saw some runners jogging the route before the parade rolled,” Shingleton says. “And we were like, ‘People like to do this, so why don’t we get a 5K together?’”

Shingleton worked with Varsity Sports owner and running expert Jenni Peters on coordinating a course that starts in the Perkins Road Overpass District, travels back into the Garden District and circles City Park, then returns to the starting line. With two-thirds of the course on the parade route, runners jog by cheering families already set up for the festivities.

The family-friendly walk/run actually represents the return of such an event to parade day. Peters organized a 1-mile fun run in the mid-’80s for two years, she says.

“When Brittany asked me what I thought about reviving a race, I said, ‘Heck yeah,’” she says.

Runners, no surprise, are bedecked in shamrock-embossed caps, shirts, shorts and socks. Some opt for tutus and deely boppers, while others go full leprechaun. Prior to the race, Varsity Sports stocks green attire, including a special-edition shamrock running shoe from Brooks, a race sponsor, Peters says.

Along with expanding the parade’s emblematic culture, the Shamrock Run benefits a local environmental charity, Baton Rouge Green. Last year’s race fetched $7,000 for the nonprofit, Shingleton says.

The race concludes with a party behind Moreau Physical Therapy—before runners embark on the rest of the day’s events.

This article was originally published in the March 2024 issue of 225 magazine.