By Lindsay Ruebens | Pensacola News Journal | PNJ.com | March 10, 2012
A man in a green plaid kilt jigged his way to the starting line while a real-life toy plastic soldier tramped across the pavement.
One woman got ready by strapping on a belt with holsters for beer cans.
A gaggle of Marines in orange Spandex shorts and tight Hooters tanks Oorah'd, and an enormous green banana, a beer maid and graffiti-covered human dollar bills took off as bagpipes blared.
Saint Patrick himself — in all his bearded glory with staff, cardinal hat and shamrock-patterned robes — even showed up.
These racers were just a handful of the record 13,350 participants in the 35th annual McGuire's St. Patrick's Day 5K Run on Saturday morning.
The race started at 9 a.m. outside McGuire's Irish Pub in downtown Pensacola, and it was so big that the fastest runners were finishing the race as hundreds of Marines brought up the rear of the enormous crowd and chanted in formation.
"It took over 15 minutes for everyone to get started," said Amy Martin, whose family owns McGuire's. "It was crazy — the last ones were just starting as the first ones were finishing."
Between knee socks of every variety, green tutus and crazy wigs, costumes and tacky outfits were the dress code for the event.
Ransone Rose, 25, of Pensacola sported nothing more than a green Speedo with a shamrock and "Ireland" stamped across the rear, and a green, sequined bow tie for his first run in the prediction race.
"The bow tie makes it a little more formal," he said.
One of his friends, Maegan Boyd-Herring, 25, dressed up as a McGuire's mug of beer and won a green trophy for having the best individual costume.
Boyd-Herring, who also sported a green wig, said she worked on the inflatable outfit for about a month.
"It's just fun," she said. "You can come out here and make a fool of yourself, and it's OK because everyone else is too. It just shows you how awesome this is for Pensacola."
Martin said it makes her and her family happy to see how much the race has grown over the past decades to become a Pensacola staple.
"I was getting a little teary-eyed with my dad up here watching everyone," Martin said as she stood atop one of the McGuire's double-decker buses parked at the starting point. "It's such a moment of pride that we can do this for the community."
The prediction run, where runners have to guess what their finishing time will be, raised money for the Pensacola Police Department, Boy Scout Troop 104, the Semper Fi (wounded warrior) Fund and the MATSG 21 5K Charity Run.
Three thousand dollars each went to the police department and Boy Scout Troop, and $20,000 went to the Marines.
Matthew Stanley, who was on Team Shenanigans, said this was his first McGuire's 5K, but he'll be back next year. He and the team were enjoying free Irish Wakes with thousands of others outside McGuire's after the race.
"The atmosphere is just electric," he said. "It's awesome."