Dublin Villager

Shamrock Club 5K race honors former member

The run raises funds for a scholarship that helps offset costs for pay-to-play athletes

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

For the second time in as many years, the Shamrock Club of Columbus will honor a former member who succumbed to complications from a surgery.

The club's fourth annual Half Way to St. Patrick's Day 5K race, which raises money for the Jeff McGowan Memorial Scholarship Fund, will be held Sept. 14.

Molly Byrne, a past president of the Shamrock Club, said runners get a discount if they sign up early: Admission is $20 until Sept. 9; $25, Sept. 10-13; and $30 the day of the race.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the race begins at 9 a.m. at Genoa Park downtown.

All are invited to join the race, which is a low-key way to get some exercise, Byrne said.

"It's a run-walk," she said. "It's fun. We don't try to make it too intense."

Jeff McGowan, a 1983 graduate of Circleville High School and 1990 graduate of Ohio University, was an active member of the Shamrock Club. His hard work earned him "member of the year" status in 2011.

"He was just a real down-to-earth guy, didn't want a lot of attention," Byrne said.

McGowan, a former Pickerington resident, died in May 2012 at the age of 47.

A dedicated athlete, he was diagnosed with an aneurism near his heart two years ago, said his brother, Matt.

Nine months later, after a 16-hour surgery, Jeff McGowan was released from the hospital. A week later, he died from a blood clot, his brother said.

Jeff McGowan was a standout athlete who loved to bike, run and play softball, Matt McGowan said.

Jeff set school records at Circleville High School in the 2.5-mile and 5 kilometer cross country events as well as in the 800 meters, 1,600 meters and 3,200 meters events.

His senior year he placed third in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Cross Country Championships and was second in the 800 meters and 1,600 meters at the OHSAA State Track & Field Championships.

Both McGowans founded RUNOHIO, a bi-monthly regional running magazine. Jeff McGowan, diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease in college, had been cancer-free for about 23 years at the time of his death, his brother said.

The Shamrock Club raised $3,000 last year for the scholarship, which helps offset costs for pay-to-play athletes.

Matt McGowan, a track coach at Bishop Watterson High School, said the run is a fitting tribute to a man who lived for athletics and enjoyed the camaraderie of the Shamrock Club.

"I think it's a great honor, specifically to keep that name going for someone who was active in sports," said McGowan, also a member of Granville Village Council.

Additional donations to the Jeff McGowan Memorial Scholarship Fund can be sent to: Jeff McGowan Memorial Scholarship Fund, PO Box 238, Granville, Ohio 43023.

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