by Jim Boyle
St. Patrick’s Day has been a special day for John Kuyper and Sarah Maras of Albertville ever since they started dating more than six years ago.
And now that they are engaged to be married and plan to honeymoon in Ireland this summer, they’re ready to take the holiday to a higher level.
The couple plans to participate in the first-ever McCoy’s Pub 5K Fun Run and Walk on the morning of St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday, March 17.
The event will start and end at the pub, with each participant receiving a free congratulatory beer or soda. So far there are less than 50 registered, but Maras and Kuyper hope for good weather and a whole lot more registrants to add to the excitement.
Organizers would like to have 200, which they’re told is the magic number to have streets blocked off in the city for the run and walk.
All proceeds from the event will go to the CAER food shelf, which is in the midst of its March food drive.
Maras and Kuyper came to McCoy’s last St. Patrick’s Day, when there wasn’t a fun run but a holiday party, no less.
“It was fun to see how everybody was so excited,” Sarah said.
And when her future husband walked in, complete with some green threads and his red beard, she felt like her own personal leprechaun had arrived. Thinking back, she smiles.
Maras, a teacher at Meadowvale Elementary School, is also excited for this year’s festivities and the coming months planning and preparation leading up to the big day and the honeymoon.
On the day of their interview at the Star News, Kuyper, a 2001 graduate of Elk River High School, was looking into their next steps to acquiring passports to travel out of the country and back to their roots.
The couple met while in college at Mankato State. Kuyper studied computer science and now has a job as a systems administrator for US Bank.
Maras, a 2003 graduate of Maple River, which is near Mankato, got her elementary education teaching degree and landed a full-time position in the Elk River school system two years ago after stints as a long-term sub.
Maras had dropped not-so-subtle hints that she wanted an engagement ring for some time. With things falling into place, Kuyper surprised her with a marriage proposal last June on the Hanover Bridge — offering her a ring that has been handed down in her family that he had been given and fixed up.
“I was patient,” Maras said. “It was worth it.”
They will marry this June in a backyard on Elk Lake. The couple then plans to spend 10 days in Ireland, starting off in Dublin before heading cross-country to Galway and then over to Meath County.
Galway is where ancestors on Kuyper’s mother’s side came from. Her maiden name was Weldon, and the couple hopes to locate the Matt Weldon Pub that carries the same name as one of Kuyper’s cousins.
Maras also has some Irish roots on her mother’s side. She remembers dressing up in green on St. Patrick’s Day and her mother making cloverleaf-shaped hamburgers. Her godmother has been to Ireland seven times, including once to get married there.
“We both have always wanted to go,” Kuyper said of himself and his fiancée.
Oddly enough, they both also wanted to participate in a 5K event, too. Neither have done it before.
“We’re excited to give it a try,” Maras said, Kuyper nodded in agreement.
“This is the perfect opportunity,” Kuyper said.
The couple hopes its the first of many McCoy’s Pub 5K run and walks, and so do event organizers.
Registrations are still being accepted for the McCoy’s Pub 5K Fun Run and Walk slated for Saturday, March 17, on St. Patrick’s Day.
Check-in and race-day registration will begin at 8 a.m. with the race starting at 9 a.m. Advance registrations are being encouraged and can be obtained by emailing [email protected] and [email protected]
The cost is $30 per person, which includes a T-shirt and a free congratulatory beer or soft drink after the run and walk.
Profits from the event will go to CAER, Elk River’s food shelf.
The race will start and end at McCoy’s Pub, located at 651 Main St. in downtown Elk River.
For more information, email Karen Stelk at [email protected] or Lisa Holien at [email protected] To register, visit the city of Elk River’s website at http://www.ci.elk-river.mn.us/ and click into the events section and then the events calendar.