St. Patrick’s Day is just over a week away and that means so is the Spectrum Health Irish Jig 5-K. The annual race is in its 35th year. While it’s known as a fun, social event, organizers say it has an important message: it promotes colorectal cancer awareness.
“It’s amazing. I know, one of the racers I talked to, in the running community people get really excited about the Irish Jig. It’s in a sense, the unofficial start to the running season.”
That’s Kelsey Haynes and she’s the Race Director for Spectrum Health’s Irish Jig. She says it’s a good community event that continues to grow. It’s limited to 45-hundred runners. Those who are experienced as well as those who might come out for the very first time. But one of the biggest attractions is that the event raises funds and awareness for colorectal cancer prevention and treatment.
“March is actually Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, so the race proceeds actually go to our fund and it goes to local patients. Those who might not be able to afford a certain test, it also helps us be able to get free colorectal testing kits out in to the community. And it’s a preventative service, so catching polyps early, it is a treatable and preventable disease.”
Another noteworthy aspect is that this year, the race is following a national trend of seeing an increase in female participants. Almost 60-percent of those registered this year are women.
“Women are engaging more in general. And often, women are the head of their household and engaging in modeling for their family. And I think they’re seeing, and I can’t speak for every woman, but I think they’re engaging more in their health, for modeling and for their own benefit.”
Haynes says online registration is available at spectrumhealth.org/irish-jig. There’s a discounted rate until Thursday March 15th. She says they will accept registrations on Friday and the day of, which is Saturday, St. Patty’s day, March 17th, in East Grand Rapids.