When I arrived at Sean Kelley’s on Saturday morning, the street was a sea of green — green sequins, green tutus, green feather boas and green face paint. To the average passerby, it probably looked like a huge (and one-week premature) St. Patrick’s Day party — which it sort of was, except that all of the partygoers were also running either a 5-kilometer or 7-mile race.

Countless road races are held in Missoula every year, each with its own unique charm and flair. But Run Wild Missoula’s annual Irish-themed “Run for the Luck of It” is truly one of the best. I don’t know if it’s the crazy costumes, the bagpipers, the free beer in the finishers’ tent or just the overall atmosphere of fun and festivity, but this is one race that I have looked forward to all year.

The 5K course takes runners over the Scott Street bridge and through the Northside neighborhood. From there, they cross over the railroad tracks via the pedestrian bridge and loop back to Missoula’s favorite Irish pub. This year, race organizers decided to add a 7-mile option, which tacks on a couple of miles in Missoula’s Westside neighborhood and a loop through the Missoula Cemetery.

Both courses offer a variety of streets and scenery — and with more than 700 participants this year, there was plenty of competition. But the best part of the whole shebang was definitely the outfits worn by race participants.

The costume competition inspired a slew of hilarious leprechaun suits and sparkly shamrock frocks. I felt kind of lame wearing a plain old green T-shirt, but a plastic rainbow cape — yes, there was one of those, anchored to a belt containing a pot of gold — probably wouldn’t have been the most aerodynamic wardrobe choice.

Despite my lack of flash and sparkle, I am proud to say that I finished the 7-miler — the longest race of my entire career — in second place. And let me tell you, free beer has never tasted so good.

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.