Corktown Races Celebrate 35 Years


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March 12 Event will Draw Thousands, Support Worthy Causes

Each year on the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day, thousands gather in Detroit’s oldest neighborhood for the annual Corktown Races.
Founded in 1983 by the Fraternal Order of United Irishmen – a Detroit organization devoted to promoting Irish heritage and supporting worthy causes – the races take place immediately before the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade up Michigan Ave.
On Sunday, March 12, the event will celebrate 35 years of fun and revelry, with the usual gang of merrymakers taking part. Many will be dressed in colorful Irish-themed costumes, with green being the predominant color.  The Fraternal Order (F.O.U.I.) and KPMG’s Family for Literacy program present the race.
“We started the race to help get more people down to the parade,” says Joe Parsky, the event’s founder, who was president of the F.O.U.I. when it all began. “The club’s members put up the seed money, and the first year we had 400 runners.
“Little did we know back then,” he says, “that it would grow to over 9000 participants and raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to help Detroit charities.”
The races begin and end in Corktown’s Roosevelt Park, in front of the Michigan Central Railroad station. Settled by Irish immigrants in the mid 1800s, the neighborhood is undergoing a well-documented revitalization with many new bars, restaurants, retail spaces, and renovated warehouse lofts and Victorian-era homes. 
Attending the races affords a chance to experience the area first-hand.Corktown
According to race director Doug Kurtis, noted runner, marathoner, and veteran director of many races, there’s something extra special this year:  The annual Road Runners Club of America will be holding its annual convention the same weekend, at the Detroit Marriott Ren Cen.
“Running club presidents from around the country will have the opportunity to experience our race,” says Kurtis. “We’re excited about showing off our vibrant running community.”
The Corktown races feature four events: The Kids Quarter Mile at 9:30, the Emerald Mile starting at 9:40, the Corktown 5K Race at 10 AM, the Dublin Double (the mile and 5K combined) There’s also a costume contest, vendor booths, food stations, and a beer tent!
Two local charities will benefit again this year:
St. Patrick Senior Center
A mainstay of Midtown since its founding by Sr. Mary Watson in 1973, St. Pat’s is Detroit’s largest activities center for older adults.  It provides meals seven days a week, a medical clinic, advocacy and transportation services, classes, activities, exercise programs, trips, in-home assistance, and a lot more.  Located in the former Girls Catholic Central High School, right behind Orchestra Hall, St. Pat’s has been supported by the F.O.U.I.s for almost 40 years.   Visit www.stpatsrctr.org.  Or call 313 833-7080  
KPMG’s Family for Literacy  (K.F.F.L)
Accounting firm KPMG’s Family for Literacy provides books to children from low-income families in collaboration with First Book, a non-profit focusing on the same mission. KPMG also relies on its partners, employees, retirees and family members to raise funding and support the program.  Since its inception in 2008, KFFL has provided more than 2.5 million new books to children in need in more than 100 communities across the United States.
To find out more about the charities, or to sign up for any of the events, visit the website at www.corktownrace.com.

Author: John Bentley

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