SOMERS — Genoa City resident Matt Messisco was dead last, double-fisted and snacking on cheese balls as the stopwatch approached 40 minutes during the Leprechaun & Lederhosen 0.1-Kilometer Beer Run on Saturday at the Petrifying Springs Biergarten.
In Messisco’s mind, he was winning.
“I’ve never been to this race before, but it’s the best race I’ve ever been to,” said Messisco at the midway point of perhaps the least-athletic race ever created.
“When I run out of beer, then I’ll think about finishing. I could be here for a while.”
More than 400 people kicked off their St. Patrick’s Day weekend at the second-annual event, which served as a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha and Kenosha County Parks.
Each participant received a race T-shirt, a 0.1K bumper sticker and free beer.
Local band Grateful Deadliners entertained the morning crowd, while Celtic rock group Hearthfire jammed well into the evening.
Kenosha Area Pipes and Drums and Wauwatosa-based Cashel Dennehy School of Irish Dance also performed.
Kenosha’s Matthew Redig won the race for the second year in a row.
Redig sprinted roughly the length of a football field in just over 19 seconds, four seconds slower than his winning time from last year.
A middle-aged woman wearing a four-leafed clover hoodie and two men walking their dogs finished second and tied for third respectively.
Messisco, 30, shared last-place honors with two others, who eventually walked off the course together into the heated beer tent.
Jeremy Gerlach, 46, of Salem Lakes won “best dressed” award for his costume which gave the impression he was seated on top of a leprechaun’s shoulders.
The race was open to competitors, 21 years and older, of all abilities.
Tom Gabik, 56, of Kenosha competed on crutches after he slipped, fell and broke his fibula last month.
“It’s truly a unique event,” said Michael Grab, owner of the Biergarten. “Anyone and all walks of life can come out to it. Very little training is required.”
Kenosha’s Luke Landwehr, a track and field coach at Lance Middle School, sipped a green beer a few feet from the finish line while he reflected on the race and offered his take on this year’s field.
“This is my second time, and it was way slower this year,” Landwehr said. “Last year, I had a chance for last. I thought I had a plan going in. I thought I executed it right. This year, I had no chance to beat these guys. They were ready.”
The race sold out on Friday with roughly 415 competitors. There were 260 last year, according to Kate Kleiva of the Kenosha Boys & Girls Club.
Kleiva said she was impressed with the turnout. She applauded Redig’s effort and determination for winning back-to-back titles.
“He clearly put a lot of training into the day,” Kleiva said. “Out of 400 people he took the crown. Good for him. Maybe he can go for a three-peat next year.”
Award winners received a commemorative glass boot.