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Photo by Debbie Schiel.
Photo by Debbie Schiel.

Wearing o' the Green Shoes

Mar 15, 2012

I’m German, Norwegian and Dutch, but everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. And I can’t wait to celebrate at the St. Patty’s Day Mile in Sioux Falls. I’m actually running the 5 mile race. There’s a 5k too, or if you’re really tough you do the “Irishman” and run all three courses. It’s sort of like the Ironman, but shorter, drier and with funny costumes.

Race director is Steve Kurtenbach, owner of Allsportcentral, a leading business for road race and triathlon promotion. I’ve seen Kurtenbach at a lot of the races I’ve run, but I didn’t realize that the St. Patty’s Day Mile launched his successful company.

Kurtenbach owned Bay Technology Group in 2000. “We were looking for ways to show you could do entire businesses on the web and there weren’t a lot of examples,” says Kurtenbach. Bay Technology decided to promote the Phillips Avenue Mile before Sioux Falls’ St. Patrick’s Day Parade (the name was changed to the St. Patty’s Day Mile the following year.) Internet businesses were fairly new at that time and the intent was to show clients they were safe. The event was paper-free, offering registration, payment transactions and results entirely online.

“Once we started doing that and putting on the race we decided this is actually a pretty fun thing to do,” says Kurtenbach. Allsportcentral’s official launch was in July of 2000 with the “No Rest till Jazzfest” race. Kurtenbach closed Bay Technologies eight years ago to focus on Allsportcentral due to what I like to call the “fun factor.” The company now has clients worldwide and race organizers have the opportunity to hire Allsportcentral for onsite services like race timing and photography. “The majority of the events we travel to are in the five state area and a lot in the Caribbean,” he says.

But Kurtenbach will be close to home for Saturday’s race. Allsportcentral’s new offices are located at the 8th and Railroad Center in downtown Sioux Falls and all of Saturday’s races end nearby at 5th and Phillips Avenue. The post-race party is just across the street from the company’s new digs held at Monks House of Ale Repute.

You might make some money at the party if you are speedy. Anyone who breaks a course record or Irishman record is awarded at least $100. The mile’s course record is 4 minutes and 34 seconds. This year if a man finishes the mile in under four minutes, they’ll receive $100 for breaking the course record and an additional $500 for running the mile under four minutes. Women get the same opportunity for running it under 4 minutes and 30 seconds.

Overall race, age division, and costume contest winners are sure to by delighted by their leprechaun shoe trophies. Kurtenbach says they are made by a leprechaun cobbler that Allsportcentral pays with a pot of gold. Keep this on the down low, but Kurtenbach really makes the trophies with one of his good friends. They order the green shoes from suppliers and mount them on homemade bases. A participant who won two trophies was actually seen wearing them later on in the evening. The costume contest winners are chosen by loudest applause. “We’ve had people dressed up like life-sized Guinness bottles and hundreds of people dressed up like leprechauns,” says Kurtenbach. One year a guy dressed up as a green running shoe. I hope he comes back. I would like to see that.

And lest you think this event is just about silly debauchery, I should tell you that it also raises money for charity. Teams can fundraise in advance, and the team with the most participants gets $200 to donate to a charity of their choice. The charity is then added as one of the official event charities. Last year’s was Helping Hands for Haiti. Funds raised also go to the SDSU Nursing Student Association, and Augustana Athletic Training Students Association.

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