Race director Bill Kehoe mistakenly ordered way too many extra-large T-shirts for Saturday's 16th annual Johnny's Runnin' O the Green 5-Mile road race.
But maybe it was written in the shamrocks.
Known for his can-do spirit, Kehoe has turned those extra T-shirts into a warm tribute to his beloved wife and race directing partner, Katie, who died on March 5 from complications associated with kidney failure and a stroke. She was 72.
Bill Kehoe said he was "cursing" himself for his botched order, wondering what he'd do with all of those extra shirts.
"But after losing Katie I said, 'I know,' " said Kehoe, who had the extras printed with a special logo.
That logo reads "Friends of Katie" inside a broken heart on the front. Her name, "No. 1" and a shamrock appear on the back.
"She had a lot of friends and anyone who runs this race and wants one of the T-shirts gets one for free," Bill Kehoe said. "We encourage people to wear them in the race and to give a donation to Bethany House where Katie volunteered for 20 years."
Paul Richards, whose PCR Timing is tabulating the race, has stepped up as interim director. He said a moment of silence at the starting line on Court and Exchange streets will be observed in honor of Katie Kehoe.
"She was always there for Bill, like his right arm, and she was so very personable, so nice to talk to," Richards said. "She'll truly be missed."
Katie and Bill Kehoe were avid runners. But she wasn't just Bill's running partner, but also his life partner for 48 years.
A graduate of Nazareth College and St. Bernard's Institute, she was a teacher in the Catholic Diocese for three decades, a Red Sox fan and animal lover.
In online posts, former students recalled how they viewed Mrs. Kehoe as a second mother. Friends, many in the running community, recalled a kind, cheerful and generous individual. Some said her deep faith and Irish upbringing gave her strength to weather her health issues, including dialysis, with great dignity.
Bill said Katie always encouraged him in his various entrepreneurial pursuits, like starting his road racing company, Cats Athletic Club, and a T-Shirt business, Willopus (a combination of his first name, William, and "opus," Latin for creative work). The couple has two children, Sarah and Nancy, and two grandchildren.
"Every race I put on, she was right there, up to a year and a half ago when the bottom fell out on her health," Bill said. "Bill Rogers (the great marathoner) once told us, 'You guys have probably done 300 races.' We never counted but afterwards we sat down, started counting, and he was close to right."
On many a hectic race morning, Katie was the calming voice in the operation.
"And if she thought I was getting out of line, she let me know,'' Bill said. "We were married 48 years and I couldn't have done better."
Wednesday's blizzard appeared to slow pre-registrations but Richards was confident warming temperatures and the festive nature of St. Patrick's Day weekend would see the race top 2,000 runners again. As of Thursday, entries numbered 1,500.
Sam Morse of Camden, N.Y., in 24 minutes, 25 seconds, and Sarah Loerch of Rochester in 29:24 were last year's male and female champions.