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Shuffle Is Off

Weather Forces Postponement Of Popular Run

Lebanon — Many devoted runners in the Upper Valley look forward to the annual Shamrock Shuffle as the unofficial start of Spring. Not this year, unfortunately.

Thanks to the recent snowstorm, they’ll have to wait one more week.

Lebanon director of recreation and parks Paul Coats on Thursday postponed the 13th annual five-kilometer road race, rescheduling festivities to March 22. The need to do so comes because of snowbanks piled high on Bank Street east of Colburn Park, making it unfeasible for runners and motorists to share the road, Coats said.

The March 22 race will have the same start times, the 1-mile fun run kicking off at 11 a.m. and the 5K main race commencing at noon.

In a message to runners, Coats elaborated, “We’ve tried to get cars off the road, we’ve tried to reroute, we’ve tried to run in waves, we’ve explored every avenue to clean Bank Street to make room, and we’ve begged for use of the Rail Trail. I promise, our need to postpone to Saturday the 22nd is due to no lack of effort here.

“Even I have to cancel my personal plans for the change.”

While many options were explored before deciding on the postponement, according to Coats, with high snowbanks covering the shoulders of both sides of the road, the normal re-routing of traffic to one side won’t be possible.

“Talking to (registered participants), they’re hearty New Englanders and they all want to race,” Coats said in a phone interview. “But our number one concern is safety, and there just isn’t a way that we can safely offer the race.

“Our concern isn’t (runners). It’s the runner plus cars. When runners meet cars on snowed-in, busy roads, the car will always win the battle. As race director, I can’t put them in that situation, knowing the conditions we face this year.”

The cost of the race is $25, with discounted rates for runners 17-and under.

Those preregistered who cannot make next weekend’s race date may transfer their participation to one of two additional Lebanon races this year, the Red, White & Blue 6.2 on Independence Day or the Let’s Glow Run 5K on Nov. 1.

Those who cannot make the March 22 date or either of the other races are encouraged to donate their registration fee, which benefits Lebanon recreation and parks youth scholarships.

“This is a much needed fundraiser for youth scholarships, which distributes over $15,000 annually,” said Coats in his email message. “Please consider donating your entry fee. We will be happy to arrange getting you your shirt if you pre-registered.

Last year, 1084 runners completed the race, won by Claremont’s Justin Montgomery in 16 minutes, 16.6 seconds.