Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a 5k

Finish Vertical is bringing a new event to downtown Harlan this Saint Patrick’s Day with the ShamROCK the Night 5k on March 12.

Harlan Tourism Executive Director Brandon Pennington said his team is excited to see an event related to Saint Patrick’s Day come to downtown Harlan.

“I know in the past we’ve seen some restaurants and retail stores celebrate, but it’s nice to see Finish Vertical host this 5k,” he said. “We’re partnering with them to try to make it a fun time for everyone, whether you are an observer, a runner or a walker in the event.”

Pennington said multiple things are planned for the event that he hopes will continue to take place, including live music and food, although it is not set in stone at this time.

After dealing with the pandemic for a year now, Pennington said he knows locals are itching to get out and participate in events, but he also understands the need to make sure participants are staying safe.

“A 5k is a great event for that because we can socially distance the runners and participants, and when they begin running, they will separate themselves,” he said. “We’re extremely excited to partner with this new business in Harlan.”

Geary and Brandy Ferguson, who manage Finish Vertical, a new, inclusive gym for all shapes and sizes, said when looking at possible events to help ease the every day stress of dealing with COVID-19, outside events win hands down every time.

“Outside events have a lower percentage of spreading the virus along with other measures put in place, such as social distancing, masks and hand sanitizer use,” the couple said. “Physical activity also helps boost the body’s immune functions, which is really important during this pandemic.”

The Fergusons said when you exercise, blood flow and immune cells move around the body, helping to fight off bacteria and viruses. Along with the physical benefits, they said many have psychological benefits as the exercise helps blunt the brain’s response to physical and emotional stress.

“It helps improve working memory and focus, better task-switching abilities and elevates your mood,” they said. “These are the things we looked at when we decided to host a 5k. The physical and mental benefits of this event are much needed during this pandemic.”

Things like a staggered starting line, social distancing, mask wearing prior to and after the race and more will all be monitored to insure the safety of participants.

“We’re looking forward to everyone coming decked out in their best Saint Patrick’s Day costumes, lit up with green glow sticks and much more,” Pennington said.

To join, simply fill out a registration form at the Harlan Center or Finish Vertical. Pre-registration is $15 and day-of-race registration is $20. Everyone registering by March 5 will be guaranteed a free event T-shirt.

Registration on the day of the event will open at 5 p.m., followed by the race at 6 p.m.

There will be a prize awarded for both male and female best costumes for the ShamROCK the Night 5k, as well as medals awarded to male and female divisions 13 and under, 14-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49 and 50+.

Participants are asked to observe social distancing guidelines and wear masks when they are not running.

For more information, message the Visit Harlan County or Finish Vertical Facebook pages or call the Harlan Center at 606-573-4156.