67-year-old Rollie Sivyer to join more than 15,000 runners for the 44th running of the Shamrock Run Portland on Sunday

By Don Norcoss

March 10, 2022 – Portland’s Rollie Sivyer is a precise man. He can tell you exactly how many road races he’s run (357). Can tell you how many miles those races covered (1,904.87). Knows how many times he’s won his age group (29).

Come Sunday in downtown Portland, Sivyer will add a nice round number to his running log when he lines up for the 44th running of the Shamrock Run Portland.

It will be his 30th time running the event.

A 67-year-old retired financial analyst who lives in Portland, Sivyer admits he is a man who stays rather even keeled. But he confesses that with the race not being held as a live event the past two years because of COVID protocols, he can’t wait to get to the start line.

“It’s a huge crowd with thousands of people dressed in costumes, wearing green,” he said. “There’s the bagpipes, the live music. It will be nice to get back to something that feels normal. I’m looking forward to it.”

In 2020, with tents already set up for the finish line festival, the event was canceled three days before the race. Last year the tradition continued as a virtual event. But come Sunday, more than 15,000 runners and walkers will celebrate the most popular road race in the Pacific Northwest.

Here’s another number for Sivyer to ponder: 1,092. That’s how many days it will have been since the last live Shamrock Run Portland.

Said Sivyer’s wife, Marlene, who’s also a runner, “It’s an annual event. It’s just what you do. You do the Shamrock Run.”

The genesis of Sivyer’s road race career dates back to 1983. The Glenn L. Jackson Memorial Bridge opened on Dec. 15,1982. To celebrate the opening, the Run Between the States 12K was held, with the course spanning the bridge that connects Portland to Vancouver, Wash.

Asked what motivated him to run the race, Sivyer said, “I had some life-changing experiences that year. It was, ‘Wake up. I’ve got to change my life.’ I decided to do it and I’ve never stopped since.”

His per-mile pace that day: 6 minutes, 58 seconds.

And like Forrest Gump, he kept on running. Unlike Gump, Sivyer has not hoofed it long that often. Of his 357 road races, by Sivyer’s count only four or five have been half marathons. He’s run 26.2 miles once, the 2005 Portland Marathon.

“I was one and done,” he said. “I had to walk to the finish line, let’s just leave it at that.”

Sivyer met Marlene, in 2003. Marlene wasn’t a runner then, but she’s a dedicated one now. She’s run four marathons, including Boston in 2013 when she crossed the finish line 20 minutes before the explosions.

“I saw he was running all the time,” said Marlene. “He inspired me.”

One of the draws of Shamrock Run Portland is that there’s something for runners and walkers of all abilities. There’s a 5K, 8K, 15K, half marathon and four-mile walk along the Willamette River. For the kids there’s the Doernbecher Leprechaun 1K Lap run.

“It’s like an all-day party,” said Marlene.

Another lure is that those who tackle the 15K and half marathon are challenged by the iconic Terwilliger Boulevard climb. One of Sivyer’s fondest Shamrock Run Portland memories revolved around the ascent.

Sivyer says it was in the late 1980s or early 1990s. It snowed the night before but at the base of the climb there was no snow on the ground. As the runners climbed, they were met by clumps of snow falling from trees.

“The snow started to melt and you had these huge massive chunks of snow falling out of the trees on all the runners,” he said. “You almost wish you had a hard hat on. You never knew when you were going to get nailed by a big clump of snow falling out of the trees.”

This weekend kicks off with a two-day Shamrock Fitness Fair where runners can pick up their bib numbers and official Shamrock merchandise, plus sample the latest in nutrition and wellness from a variety of sports and fitness-related partners.

The post-race festival features the Widmer Brothers Brewing Beer Garden. Runners 21 and older receive a complimentary beer and can sample or purchase White Claw Hard Seltzer.

A bowl of hot Shamrock Oatmeal will be offered courtesy of Bob’s Red Mill.

Each runner receives a commemorative medal. The Doernbecher Leprechaun Lap participants take home a Superhero Cape.

The primary beneficiary of the event is Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation, which has been affiliated with Shamrock for the past 24 years.

As for Sivyer, he underwent hip replacement last August. He’ll tackle the 8K Sunday and says it may be his Shamrock Run Portland last hurrah. He signed up for the race in 2020. The entry fee has been paid. He’ll be on the start line.

“If I didn’t run the Shamrock, what would I be doing?” said Sivyer. “Absolutely nothing.”

Instead, he’ll be part of the party, celebrating Shamrock Run Portland’s return. After all, 1,092 days is a long time to wait.

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