On Saturday May 30, Ian and I participated in the second annual Craft Brew races in Stowe, VT. Not much can convince me to get up on a Saturday morning and run 3 miles, but that day I had some real motivation…beer!
The Stowe Craft Brew Races took place at the Stoweflake Resort on a hot (like 88 degrees hot), sunny day. For $55, participants got to register for the race as well as partake in the beer festival afterward. Everyone also received a Craft Brew Races medal, a pint glass, and some free snack samples.
This was our first experience with the Craft Brew Races, and here’s what we thought:
- This was a no-pressure race where everyone could feel accomplished. You could tell most people were totally down for the physical exercise, but no one was going to be upset if they didn’t beat their personal best at this race.
- The route around the Stoweflake Resort was really nice to run through. Apart from some rowdy cows who seemed to be loudly cheering us on, the route was quite peaceful.
- There was a good mix of bigger breweries (Sam Adams, Harpoon, Sierra Nevada Angry Orchard) and smaller, newer Vermont breweries (Liftline, Frost Beer Works, 1st Republic, Paine Mountain)
- There were actual brewery representatives pouring, not just festival volunteers. The folks from Simple Roots actually ran the race and then started pouring!
- Both the check-in and parking process seemed smooth and well-coordinated. We arrived pretty early and didn’t wait in line at all to check in.
- The swag that was included with the ticket price were great takeaways (the blue shirt in the picture below was purchased separately for $20.)
- There seemed to be enough bathrooms (read: port-o-potties) for everyone. I never had to wait in line, and there was a lot of drinking going on (although I’m pretty sure every single one ran out of hand sanitizer).
- The water situation was pretty dismal. Keep in mind this was a seriously HOT and sunny day. We were all handed a 12 oz. bottle of water at the end of the race, but any other free water was seriously hard to come by. Although I didn’t see the festival staff restricting personal water bottles, most people were just walking around with the teeny tiny disposable plastic cup we were given for tasting. The only free water was being dispensed in those 5-gallon coolers you see at high school sports games, and almost every time I went to fill my plastic cup, they were empty or nearly empty. This forced people to buy water from the food vendors, and while the water wasn’t expensive, that still doesn’t seem like the best way to encourage responsible water consumption at a BEER festival following a RACE.
- The other disappointing water situation came during the race itself. There was water available at the halfway point, but most people were skipping it because there was an actual line you had to wait in, which would definitely have a negative impact on your final time. Overall just not enough free water.
- Not anyone’s fault, really, but we waited an hour for a pizza from one of the food vendors, and the other food lines were equally as long as the one we waited in.
- The finish line seemed chaotic and disorganized. I felt like I ran straight into a crowd of people, not like I crossed a finish line. I think they could have benefited from lanes to encourage people to keep moving away from the line. Then the folks handing out medals and water would have had an easier time as well.
- It wasn’t a huge festival by any means, but I had to get my bearings and figure out where all of the breweries were set up before I could start tasting, so I wish a map had been provided.
- There was a Designated Driver ticket offered, but DDs couldn’t participate in the race.
WOULD WE DO IT AGAIN?
I would definitely participate in the Craft Brew Races again. Overall impressions were that it was a relatively well-organized event, and it was a unique activity that allowed me to do one of my favorite things—drink beer! I would do a couple of things differently, but most of these are just learning from the experience of running in a real 5K, something I haven’t done in a long time.
- First of all, I would need to get in better shape. But that’s no one’s fault but my own.
- I would definitely bring some sandals or flip flops to change into after the race, and maybe even a fresh shirt or change of clothes altogether.
- I would bring MUCH more of my own water.
- I would also try to bring a DD—with the combination of heat, exhaustion, and beer, we stopped drinking and left the fest early while we could still drive home.