BEVERLY — Jim Pacente believes a one-mile run is the perfect warm-up for the South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Pacente owns Running Excels at 10328 S. Western Ave. with his wife, Beverly Lynch. The pair started the Emerald Isle Mile last year. The one-mile race runs along the route of the South Side Irish Parade, beginning at 112th Street and heading northbound along Western Avenue to 104th Street.
"It's a healthy, positive way to start the parade," Pacente said.
The Emerald Isle Mile begins at 11 a.m. All runners must complete the race in 15 minutes or less. Strollers, bikes, skates and pets are not allowed on the course. There are no water stations.
The B-Tag timed race must wrap up quickly as the South Side Irish parade begins at noon. The parade marches down Western Avenue from 103rd Street to 115th Street. More than 150,000 spectators are expected as the parade marks its 36th year of celebrating Irish heritage in the Beverly and Morgan Park communities.
Pacente said the short-distance race allows participants plenty of time to return home to host parties or find a perfect spot to watch the 100 different groups march by, including Irish dancers, pipe bands and first responders.
The preparade race drew 215 people last year. It was added to the festivities as a way to further promote the South Side parade as a family friendly event, said Kevin Coakley, co-chairman of the organizing committee.
Pacente believes the Emerald Isle Mile will continue to grow in popularity and predicts that the race and the parade will someday be inseparable.
"This is an important thing to me. I believe it will be here forever," he said.
Online registration for the race ends Wednesday. The race costs $20, which includes a unisex, dri-fit T-shirt and a goodie bag filled with coupons from area merchants. A portion of the proceeds will also be donated to Special Olympics Chicago.
Packet pickup is available at Running Excels on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Race-day registration will also be available from 9:30-10:30 a.m. Sunday at 112th Street and Western Avenue. The day-of registration costs $25 and must be paid in cash.
The top female and male participants will receive a $50 gift certificate to Running Excels. The top male and female finishers in nine different age categories will receive $25 gift certificates.
The course record set last year was 4 minutes, 32 seconds. A $50 gift certificate will be given to the runner who breaks the record. But you won't be alone if you finish the Emerald Isle Mile well behind the leader, Pacente said.
"It's not just for the speed demons. It's for families as well," he said.