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Thousands of Runners Compete in 15th 'Shamrocks' Race

By Nigel Chiwaya | March 3, 2013 1:59pm

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Thousands of runners descended upon Washington Heights Sunday morning for the 15th annual Coogan's Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5K race.

More than 6,000 runners braved the frigid early morning temperatures to participate in the 3.1-mile race, the first since Coogan's owner and race founder Peter Walsh stepped down as race organizer, citing increased policing fees from the NYPD.

Before the race, Walsh thanked the New York Road Runners, the race's new organizer.

"This race is important for our community," Walsh said.

Tesfaye Girma, 30, finished first among men with a time of 14:44. Girma finished second in 2009. Tigist Tufa was the top women's finisher with a time of 16:51.

Although several runners said that they didn't realize that Walsh had moved on, some runners said that this year's race felt slightly less festive.

"There's a lot less music," said Amanda Semidey, 38, who was running in the race for the second time. "Usually there's more festivity."

"The last time I was here there were large bands," added runner Wilson Rosa, 24.

Despite the change in organizers, the race still drew runners from across the five boroughs.

"I like that it's in a part of town that doesn't have any other races," said Geddes Goley, a Harlem resident who was running in his first race. Goley added that he had long wanted to run in the Coogan's 5K.

"I heard that it's really fun and festive. People dress up in costumes and have a great time."