Winter’s bitter cold takes a break for the Shamrock Run - The Buffalo News
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Winter’s bitter cold takes a break for the Shamrock Run

Green and white striped socks.

Green beer stein emblazoned suspenders.

Green shorts, shirt and sneakers.

And to top it all off, a green top hat.

The only thing that wasn’t green was Mike Degenaars’ fake beard.

“I’ve worn the hat and beard for four years,” the Derby man said. “Each year, I add a little bit to it.”

On any normal day, Degenaars’ outfit might raise some eyebrows, but not at the Shamrock Run on Saturday in Buffalo’s Old First Ward.

“We do several races a year, and this is one we always do,” said his brother, Jon. “It gets us out of the house.”

On what passes these days as a balmy, even steamy, afternoon, the Degenaars brothers were joined by about 4,900 other runners Saturday, many of them relieved at the break in bitterly cold temperatures.

It was enough to make you wonder, maybe God is Irish.

“We’re blessed,” said Maryann Schuta, registration coordinator for the annual race. “We all hung out our rosaries last night.”

On this day, which many consider the unofficial start of spring, it’s a time for everyone to be a little bit Irish.

“It’s St. Patrick’s Day, or close to it,” said Grace Stellrecht, 9, of Clarence, a newcomer to the Shamrock.

She and her friend Anna Ridge, 10, also of Clarence, were running the race with their dads.

And yes, they came equipped with the required running attire – bright green tasseled headbands.

“I decided it would be nice to run around in some St. Patrick’s Day colors,” said Anna.

They were far from alone, and the green came in all age groups.

Like Stacy Bowman of Newfane, who came in a green and white tutu, her face dotted with a fake green tattoo. “I heard it’s the funnest race of the year,” said Bowman.

It’s also the first major race of the year.

And for serious runners like Randy Brownlee, who came with Bowman, the Shamrock is a chance to kick off the running season and at the same time have some fun.

The nice weather was just another added plus.

“Something’s going on,” said Brownlee. “This is the warmest it’s been in two years.”

Hard to believe given the relentless cold spell we’ve endured this year, but he’s right.

At last year’s race, temperatures hovered in the low 20s, and there was a light snowfall.

Even worse was the year before when it was just as cold, and runners endured wind gusts of up to 60 mph.

“Beautiful,” said Kevin Sweeney of Tonawanda when asked about the weather Saturday.

Sweeney, who really is Irish, said it wouldn’t have mattered, though. He would have showed up regardless of the weather.

His green-tinted hair may tell you why.

“It’s the spirit of it all,” he said.


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