I’ve been hearing about the Flying Irish for the past 5 years or so. Word about a fun group of semi-serious joggers who meet at an Irish pub in downtown Spokane, pound out a few miles, then hang around for a beer or two catches your ear! So in the spirit of research for Step Up Spokane, I joined the group for a recent run. Now I know why people enjoy meeting every Thursday night for a 3 mile loop around the downtown area. It was so much fun I forgot I was running!
I had the pleasure of running with the founder of the Flying Irish, Peter Breach. He is one of two grand pooh-bahs who organizes the runs, gets the word out, orders t-shirts (if you run with the group 6 times you can get an official t-shirt!) and prizes, and most importantly, gets the group revved up and ready to go each week. On the week I was there Peter asked the crowd if there were any virgins among them…snicker. A few people raised their hands, eyes turned to me and I realized I had to raise my hand. I got it, first time Flying Irish runner! That’s the type of quirky fun the group is known for. But the serious side of what’s going on every Thursday evening quickly became evident as I ran with grand pooh-bah Peter.
He started the Flying Irish group with 9 runners, 5 of them his family members! Today, in its 6th season, there are around 400 runners each Thursday. Peters goal was to provide a venue for recreational runners/walkers, something fun and easy that might encourage people who don’t want to do big, organized running events. The organizational strategy with Flying Irish is…show up at O’Doherty’s on Thursday at 5:45, run, walk, jog, or slog with no entry fee. You do have to sign in for liability reasons, but that’s it. No start line, no finish line, no jay-walking, just end up back at the pub where you started, wearing a smile! Peter sees to that. As we ran he encouraged runners and walkers from every fitness level, “Way to go John, come on you better be moving faster than the old guys!”. But just because the runs aren’t serious, don’t think some runners aren’t. Last year there were 21 Coeur D’Alene Ironman competitors who ran with the Flying Irish. People with all kinds of goals and abilities, together every Thursday night from March until the snow flies enjoying what Peter calls “the best value athletic club in the city”!
Julie Humphreys, Director Step Up Spokane