On St. Patrick’s Day, the only workout most of us ever get is the cardio from walking bar to bar (you know, putting the “hop” in bar-hopping). This year, burn off some of those beer calories before you hit the pubs by participating in the Guinness Celtic 5K.

The fourth annual Celtic 5K, which takes place on March 9, begins and ends in Elm Park and follows the same route as the Worcester St. Patrick’s Day parade. Because the race begins an hour before the parade starts, the streets are lined with built-in cheerleaders.

“That is part of the fun and why the races are growing so fast,” said Charles Breagy, event organizer for the Tour de Patrick race series. “Then, after the race, the runners mix with the cheering crowds to watch the parade and join the post-race parties all over the city.”

Celtic5KCThe Guinness Celtic 5K is the third and final race in the Tour de Patrick race series. The Tour de Patrick takes place over eight days in three cities. Participants accumulate times from all three 5Ks and place in the overall Tour standings. The two other races, which are held in Pawtucket and Providence, R.I., are held in conjunction with each city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

“The Celtic 5K is the fastest-growing race in the Tour de Patrick,” Breagy said. The Worcester race has grown exponentially since its inception in 2011, and Breagy hopes to surpass last year’s 3,000 participants.

Breagy started the St. Pat’s 5K in Providence in 2009, and after seeing how successful it was to combine an Irish-themed race with the city’s parade, he decided to try the same formula in a couple of other cities. In 2011, the Irish 5K in Pawtucket and the Celtic 5K in Worcester were started.

“Once the three races were in place, it seemed only natural to connect them all,” said Breagy, of coming up with the Tour de Patrick concept. “Since all three races have a St. Patrick’s parade, it is a title that’s easy to remember.”

Celtic5KBBreagy chose Worcester as the third location because of its close proximity to Providence and his prior connections with the city. (He was a member of Central Mass Striders and has run the Worcester Firefighters Memorial 6K). He also heard Worcester knows how to party.

“The Worcester annual St. Patrick’s parade is one of the best in the country,” he said. “I met with the organizers, and we all agreed that both events together would be great for the city.”

Even better for the city ~ not only does the event enhance the parade atmosphere, but the race supports the Worcester Firefighters Fund and local running clubs. Breagy said that last year, the race raised $10,000 for local organizations.

“This is a very entertaining event,” Breagy said. “We encourage participants to dress up in costume to add to the fun and color.”

All entrants receive a T-shirt. Runners and walkers of all ages can register at celtic5k.com.