Pensacola, Florida
Saturday October 25th 2014

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The Local: McGuire’s Run

A Short Distance to Marathon Drinking
By James Hagan

I have no trouble running 3.1 miles. Running 3.1 miles and getting drunk afterwards—well, that’s another story. Running, and then partying afterwards, is what makes the McGuire’s St. Patrick’s Day Run such a unique experience for running, and drinking aficionados.

On Saturday, March 10 thousands of runners will gather at McGuire’s Irish Pub to participate in what has become one of the most popular prediction races in the country.
This will be my second time participating in the race. My previous experience saw me get a little competitive with the other runners, resulting in me going home immediately after the race to take a nap. This time, however, I plan to cap off this short race with a bout of marathon drinking.

For serious runners, the McGuire’s race is a legitimate competition. However, for the vast majority of participants, the race is a chance to have some fun and have an excuse to start drinking at 10 a.m.

What makes the McGuire’s race so different from many other races is the light-hearted nature of the event. You’ll be running along and be passed by a man in a banana suit. Some people will be wearing kilts (hopefully, with something on underneath), while others will be done up in green, prancing like Leprechauns. No outfit can be too ridiculous. The race is a lot like Halloween, if Halloween involved running in the heat and drinking beer afterwards.

Don’t be afraid to look ridiculous and stand out. If you have a gorilla suit handy, and I won’t ask why you do, bust it out for the big race. I mean, you might have a heat stroke wearing it but you’ll definitely entertain the crowd while doing so.

While the race is about fun, it is still an athletic competition. Many a person has been laid low by rolling in from an all-night rager thinking they could dash off the race and keep on imbibing afterwards. Even the most in-shape people sometimes think that a three-mile run isn’t worth preparing for. What they forget about is that .1 afterwards. It’s always the distance after the decimal point that will do you in.

For this reason it may be a good idea to actually spend a week or two training for the race. The night before the race I’d suggest laying off the whiskey shots and going home before last call.  When you hit the 2.5-mile mark and all you smell coming out of your pores is alcohol you’ll be wishing you followed my advice.

The McGuire’s race is a prediction race. What this means is that to win you don’t have to finish first or even try your hardest. You don’t have to be the fastest; rather, all you have to do is guess how slow you’ll be to be a winner. If you plan on making it an all-day party afterwards, perhaps you don’t want to run as hard as you can.

Technically, you could even walk the race, but that seems a little like cheating. At that point, you’re just walking three miles to drink like some kind of homeless alcoholic. I’d suggest running at a good speed but not over-exerting yourself. Choose a time that accurately reflects how fast you can go, not how fast you used to go before all those late nights at the bar. I predicted 24:38. For the record, that is also roughly the amount of beers I plan on drinking after the race.
There is no more beautiful place to run in this world than downtown Pensacola, and there aren’t many better places to drink than the world-famous McGuire’s. Get some running shoes, find something green to wear and make some room in your stomach for an Irish Wake or two. Or 10. It’s the McGuire’s race, no one will judge. I’ll see you at the finish line. I’ll be the little guy wearing green.

—James Hagan likes to run and specializes in writing about getting drun, apparently. He is getting a graduate degree in English Literature from the University of West Florida for reasons that escape him. He lives in East Hill with a Beta fish. You can follow him on Twitter @jameskhagan, add him on Facebook, or just buy him a drink next time you run into him downtown.