A North Carolina race director sparked outrage by using a four-leaf clover in signage for a "Shamrock 5K" run, Dumb Runner has learned.
The race director, Thomas Brady, is president of the Fogelsville Road Runners. The club organized the race, which was held Sunday morning.
The event drew nearly 1,000 area runners, including families with children, who were encouraged to arrive early for the "Festoonin' o' the Strollers," a jogging stroller decorating contest.
Participants were welcomed with green bagels, a kilt-clad bagpiper, and the offending sign—a huge starting line banner featuring a smiling anthropomorphic four-leaf clover in mid-stride.
"What the f*** is this?" said a woman with two young children, as she gazed at the banner. "A joke?"
She was among dozens who left in disgust before the race even started.
Of those who did stay, many were clearly unhappy.
"It's called the SHAMROCK 5K... not the FOUR-LEAF CLOVER 5K!" one runner shouted as he crossed the starting line.
He then turned to address Mr. Brady, who had just fired the starter's pistol.
"MORON!" he screamed.
Later, others visited the Fogelsville Road Runners' Facebook page to voice their displeasure.
"*Sham* is right!" wrote one commenter. "I will never run another of your events again and will encourage my many friends and family to do likewise!"
"This event did not Sham-ROCK, as promised," wrote another. "It Sham-SUCKED. Couldn't even get the right plant in your signs!"
In language that has since been removed, the official race website did indeed suggest that the event would "Sham-ROCK."
Mr. Brady could not immediately be reached for comment, but he apologized via a brief statement on the Shamrock 5K's website.
"Time for the expressin' o' the regrets!" Mr. Brady wrote. "I sincerely apologize for my misuse of a four-leaf clover in signage for the Shamrock 5K, and I hope that it didn't ruin anyone's St. Patrick's Day experience."
"Erin go brag!" he concluded.