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St. Patrick’s Day revelers express a broad spectrum of celebration. For some folks it’s as simple as wearing a little green and, because leprechauns are apparently colorblind and very handsy, pinching those who don’t. Others consider St. Paddy’s the PGA Championship of holiday drinking majors – not quite as sacred as New Year’s Eve, Halloween, or Fourth of July but still a better excuse to drink than Cinco de Mayo – and bring out the shamrock pasties and/or attempt to drink their way to an Irish accent.

Luckily for you, Reno offers St. Paddy’s alternatives for both crowds, plus the opportunity for a little holiday cardio in the form of a pair 5K runs.

The Sparks Shamrock Shuffle starts at 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 5, with a pub crawl to follow. You can sign up by visiting www.CrawlReno.com.

The Fourth Annual Leprechaun Race starts at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 13, and winds through Midtown and the Wells Avenue area. Click here for registration detail.

Honestly, there’s no right or wrong choice when it comes to these two fun events. Both encourage costumes and plenty of green. When it comes down to it, or if your picking on which date works best for your schedule, you can’t go wrong with either race.

However, there are some subtle differences that might help you decide which one is best for you.

For the serious runner

If competitive racing is your thing, with costume or without, the Leprechaun Race is your choice. The Shamrock Shuffle is marketed as a fun-run and only takes times for the first 20 finishers while the Leprechaun Race is flighted by age group and gives prizes for the top three men and women in each. The Leprechaun Race is also part of the 2016 Race178 Point Series.

Plus, the goal is to outrun an extra speedy leprechaun trying to run you down from behind and who doesn’t see the fun in that (except maybe those who already struggle with clown nightmares)?

With the early Sunday start time, the Leprechaun Race also caters to the family crowd. If you’ve got young ones who also run, this one’s for you. There is an exclusive beer event afterward at Ceol for this interested in some post-race beverages.

Pro tip: If you plan on drinking, wait for the after-party. The Leprechaun Chase promotes itself as a family-friendly event, so don’t be that guy. Unlike your Instagram feed, nobody will be amused when their puppies and babies get mixed with drunken duck-face selfies and throw-up. Plus, the race is on a Sunday. Don’t you have work the next morning?

Bonus pro tip: Don’t, under any circumstances, tackle or otherwise harm the leprechaun. Engaging in actual shenanigans with a semi-legitimate leprechaun should clearly be a high-priority item on anyone’s bucket list. Still resist the urge. Deny the temptation. Even though it’s not quite as bad as taking down a mall Santa, leprechauns have feelings, too.

If drinking is your hobby

There’s no reason to lie: for many, St. Paddy’s is about drinking.

Sure, you’re willing to run (or walk) your health-conscious self a few miles in green accoutrement first, but that’s really only a means to an end: burning calories so you can imbibe guilt-free and turning yourself into a cheap drunk. That’s drinking efficiency at its finest.

The Shamrock Shuffle is tailor-maid for such pioneers. It’s followed by a pub crawl with all the $3 drink specials you love, runners get their first beer free, and all the zany greenness you can possibly handle (remember the pasties).

Sometimes you’ve got run to crawl.

Pro tip: Eat something. Or turn into a hot mess. Your call.

If you’re hardcore

Why bother choosing when you can do both awesome events? If you’re a runner, this is a no-brainer.

You can treat the Shamrock Shuffle as your warmup event (alcohol is great for carb-loading, right?) and then give that little green bastard hell during the Leprechaun Race. Reno-Tahoe is one of the best destinations in the West for outdoor recreation and it’s been a long winter. Don’t miss an excuse to get outside while putting down some miles toward your yearly goal. And who doesn’t love running in costume?

Pro tip: Green Body Glide is not a thing. Don’t make it one.

If you’re not…

If history has proven anything it’s that people will do absurd things for free alcohol. If you decide running 3.1 miles isn’t one of those things, the Shamrock Shuffle is for you.

While both races have after-parties, the Leprechaun Chase’s is runner exclusive.  If you’re like the people described above who love St. Paddy’s day for the green beer whiskey, but don’t share their ambition, skip the running and go straight to the pub crawl.

Pro tip: Pace yourself. The real St. Patrick’s Day isn’t until March 17. You can only get drunk for the same holiday so many times (it’s not Christmas, after all).

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