UPDATED 03/26/12 5:20 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — More than 34,000 runners have set off on another season of races here in Chicago, at the Shamrock Shuffle downtown on Sunday.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Michele Fiore reports, while it’s not the first run of 2012, it’s the one that seems to get things started.

A week after St. Patrick’s Day, the 33rd Shamrock Shuffle ends at Buckingham Fountain, with many runners wearing green.

Their reasons for participating vary.

“Really, we all run for beer here,” one woman said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Michele Fiore reports

“This race is kind of like a little mini-marathon,” said Ray Gobis, of Itasca. “It’s the same start, the same setup with all the tents, and the same number of people. It, you know, for a lot of us, this is kind of a sprint.”

Gobis, 50, ran with a group of runners from Harper College. He said he started running, because he didn’t want to get fat. He said he runs an average of 50 miles a week and has participated in the Chicago Marathon.

Susan Soynee, from Spring Grove, ran the 8K with two friends.

“I’m waiting for the runner’s high, but I don’t get one. I’m hoping that I’ll have one of those, I don’t really ever get that. But you feel so good when you’re done,” she said. “Nobody says ‘Congratulations, you worked out.’ When they get done with the race, they go ‘Oh, that’s such a good job.’”

Christina Diaz ran for her 85-year-old mom.

“She’s a wonderful person. I love her very much. So, this was one way of showing her how much I love her,”

Diaz, like so many others celebrating the finish on this warm day with a cold beer, will look for other runs this summer.

Leading the pack in the race were men’s champion Abdelaaziz Atmani of Indianapolis, who finished in 23:18, and women’s champion Julia Lucas of Eugene, Ore., who finished in 25:37. Lucas clocked the fastest women’s winning time since Deena Kastor set an American record in 2005, and the seventh fastest in race history.

Atmani scored an upset over four-time U.S. Olympian Abdi Abdirahman to win the race

“This was my first time running in Chicago and I really enjoyed the competition and the course,” Atmani, a native of Morocco who became a U.S. citizen a year ago, said in a news release. “Hopefully I will come back to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in the fall.”

Lucas battled with Chicago area native Delilah DiCrescenzo to win the women’s race.

“I have been battling back from injuries and I couldn’t be happier with the time and the performance,” Lucas said in the release. “This is a boost of confidence as I prepare for the 5,000 meters at the U.S. Olympic Trials this summer. I had never been to Chicago before and tried to take in as much of the city and the course as I could, although the last couple miles were a little hazy as I was just going for the win.”

Top 10 Male Finishers
1. Abdelaaziz Atmani, 30, Indianapolis, Ind. 23:18
2. David Adams, 23, Lincoln, Neb. 23:21
3. Abdi Abdirahman, 35, Tucson, Ariz. 23:30
4. Thomas Frazer, 30, Lake Forest, Ill. 23:30
5. Jeremy Criscione, 24, Sterling Heights, Mich. 23:32
6. Mike Reneau, 33, St.Paul, Minn. 23:36
7. Jordan Fife, Bloomington, Ind. 23:39
8. Adu Dentamo, Bloomington, Ind. 23:42
9. Jed Christiansen, Greenville, Pa. 23:43
10. Robert Scribner, Sterling Heights, Mich. 23:52

Top 10 Female Finishers
1. Julia Lucas, 28, Eugene, Ore. 25:37
2. Delilah DiCrescenzo, 29, New York, N.Y. 25:49
3. Diane Nukuri-Johnson, 27, Iowa City, Iowa 26:11
4. Melissa White, 30, Sterling Heights, Mich. 26:28
5. Nicole Blood, 23, Annandale, N.J. 27:16
6. Laura Farley, 28, Carmel, Ind. 27:34
7. Jessica Monson, 25, Burlington, Wis. 27:41
8. Katie Fenstermaker, 29, South Bend, Ind. 27:44
9. Erin Richard, 26, Sterling Heights, Mich. 27:52
10. Chantelle Wilder, 26, Los Gatos, Calif. 28:16