Lucky Leprechaun 5K has more locals than a little bit

Coach Poppy K staring down Duke’s final tournament
March 15, 2022

Three-hundred pounders - Some 300 athletes pounded the pavement in Milton Sunday morning for the ninth annual Lucky Leprechaun 5K, staged by the Seashore Striders and Irish Eyes, and benefiting the Milton Fire Department, better known as Station 85. “This is the most local people I’ve seen in one place in Milton in a long time,” said Tim Pepper, who hopes to be recognized at the Sussex County Pepper family reunion this summer. “A great turnout considering how cold it was,” said Race Director Tim Bamforth. “And we still had 100 no-shows.” The Cape combined rosters from 11 spring sports equals 372 athletes, which is 28 less than a one-day Lucky Leprechaun 5K. The age of the athletes ranged from 5 to 73, and the race photographer (me) was older than all of them, but also recognized the most people across three generations. 

Quick study - A study in 5K quickness. Ryan Baker, 17, won the 5K going away in 16:45. Michelle Karsnitz, who always runs happy and finishes happier, was the overall women’s winner in 20:43. Matt Sparacino, an out-of-towner from Harrington, won the male masters race in 18:36, while Heather Leiggi of Milton was female masters winner in 21:52. I have never seen results in a field of 300 with so many downstate runners from Lewes, Milton, Rehoboth, Houston, Georgetown, Lincoln, Ellendale, Milford, Viola, Felton, Laurel, Magnolia, Ocean View, Millsboro, Greenwood and Frankford. We’ve come a long way from “running’s just dumb” to the mecca of running races in downstate Delaware. The first flight of 100 broke 30 minutes, so these jokers are actually running. Expanded results can be found at And more in-depth coverage will be in the Friday edition of the Cape Gazette. 

Ask any oligarch - Rich people don’t like you taking their stuff or messing with their money, and successful coaches who have laid down track roaring through championship stations you only can see from the seat that faces backward don’t like losing to anyone as the try to get to the depot and hustle into the food court of retirement. Coach Mike Krzyzewski of Duke took a beat-down from North Carolina in his sail-into-the-sunset sendoff at Cameron Indoor, then followed that up by losing to Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game. It’s never fun when your loss generates a big confetti rain-down party, dead in your face. Coach K has won five national titles at Duke, the most recent in 2015. Coach K is 75. He and his wife have 10 grandchildren; his yellow lab Blue died in his arms last year. Coach K is Poppy to his grandchildren. My grandfather Frank was Poppy and my brother Tom was Poppy. I honestly don’t see Duke as an Elite 8 team, but Mike K is definitely an elite Poppy. And I’m all about Poppy Power! 

Inflated fans - Get bigger seat cushions. Attendance numbers for sports that are not football and basketball are low, but at least they are inflated. I tracked a college game – won’t say which sport – that listed the attendance number as 30. I’m sure the student intern was told, “Never report 30 in attendance. Make it 130 or just forget to fill in the number.” The good news is many games are streamed, which is even less of a reason to be there. The announcers are mostly college kids, some falling into the smart yet clueless class; it’s sometimes best to turn the sound down and multitask. 

Keeping score - Whatever the sport, from football in the fall to lacrosse in the spring, and whether you call a preseason competition a scrimmage or play day, someone is keeping score. And if you turn on the scoreboard, everyone is keeping score. And on certain days, if they score more than you, whatever your emphasis is from personal rotation to resting your best players, by the next day everyone will know “who beat?” Cape football scrimmaged at Middletown in the summer of 2013. The Vikings, with such players as Justin Lopez, Andrew Grau, Devin Miller, Julius Tyler, Tyre Maull, Brandon Nixon and Shamar Moore, absolutely battered the Cavaliers before the halftime water break. I told coach Bill Collick, “The Chinese talk about yin and yang (dark-light, negative-positive forces coming to balance). It was all yin for you guys in the first half. My advice: Get on the bus because yang is coming.” Bill laughed, “Yang is surely gonna come.” And it did come in the form of Chris Godwin, a 6-foot-4 wideout who is now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who torched Cape’s DBs like a welder in a shipyard.  

Go on now, git!


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