Pop on your gutties and join the world in celebration of your Irishness this St. Patrick's Day with the SPAR Craic 10k 2021, on St. Patrick's Day, March 17 at 2pm Irish time.

Just when we were expecting the starting gun for the SRAR Craic 10K last St Patrick's Day, we heard instead the sirens wail - COVID-19 was in the house.

That didn't just mean a hard stop to St Patrick's Day parades around the world. A casualty closer to home was the Craic 10K which has been a staple of the National Saints' Day in Belfast since 2015.

It was an idea I picked up in St Louis, Missouri, where their mammoth annual parade is preceded by a family fun run. The organizers kindly helped us transplant the idea to the province of St Patrick - though, we didn't replicate the offer from the city where Budweiser was born of a free beer to every adult finisher.

Beer, Belfast, and St Patrick have been far from a holy trinity in our Holyland.

The sudden down tools ultimatum wrong-footed the Craic crew and, unfortunately, there was no time to put in place a safer, solo, virtual event on 17 March last.

That was the before times, of course, when we weren't adept at organizing online alternatives. Back when Zoom was the default gear of Wacky Races contestants rather than a whacky way to take your work home with you — whether you want to or not. 

With a whole 12 months to get our virtual house in order, you can be sure that we weren't going to call the whole thing off this St Patrick's Day.

In fact, this March 17th, we're going to blow a raspberry at COVID by sharing the miracle of running and the message of St Patrick to every place on planet earth where the color green is worn.

With the click of a keyboard — and, admittedly, a few bob — our global family can register to join us in Belfast for the virtual Craic 10K. Unlike every other 2021 St Patrick's Day event, you do a whole lot more than just spectate at this celebration. In fact, to earn the shiny medal and the catching tee-shirt, you have to get out on the Saint's Day and put in the hard yards. 10K may be a stretch so we will settle for a 5K jog or even a 1K walk

How then has this novel St Pat's proposal been going down with the diaspora? Like green donuts on Tipperary Hill.

Already, our call for Craic global ambassadors has brought in runners from six shamrock-friendly continents (what is it about the Irish of Antartica?) and we are on course for the biggest and brightest event this 17 March uniting and engaging our global family. On that day for sure, we will all be part of a great Irish race. 

I hope you'll lace up your gutties and join us on the 17th. I'll be broadcasting a fast-moving show direct from Ireland from 2pm on St Patrick's Day. We will go live to SPAR Craic runners around the world as they cross their personal finish line. There'll also be music — the famed Dropkick Murphys are onboard — and a starting line pep-talk from that most international of Ireland's representatives, the Irish Ambassador to the United Nations Geraldine Bryne Nason.

Pandemic protocols dictate that most, but not all (relatively COVID-free Australia and Aotearoa are fielding teams) will have to run on their own or with just one other person. There is an exception to that rule - Manhattan College in New York where Rob Walsh has marshaled 47 students and staff (not 50, mind you, but 47) for a socially-distanced outing in Van Cortland Park. 

So, let's show a clean pair of heels to this cursed coronavirus for one day at least and join the Irish in running the world this St Patrick's Day. 

This article was submitted to the IrishCentral contributors network by a member of the global Irish community. To become an IrishCentral contributor click here.