SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

June 11, 2013

On The Run: Races becoming more and more like social events

On The Run
Jay Kumar

---- — It’s no secret that there are more road races taking place than ever before. But the running resurgence is also intersecting with the current boom in independent craft brewing.

To set their events apart, local race organizers are teaming with local brewers to offer post-race parties that go beyond the traditional spread of Gatorade, cold cuts and a bag of chips.

Successful examples include the Cambridge 5K race series (http://cambridge5k.com), which has expanded beyond Cambridge this year to include a new event in Ipswich; the Loco race series (www.locoraces.com/) in southern New Hampshire, and the Newburyport Green Stride Half Marathon.

In a relatively short period of time, the C5K series has become as well-known for its after-parties as its races. Race director Ed O’Connor directed races for the Somerville Road Runners club before launching the C5K, a five-race series that includes three 5Ks in Cambridge, a trail race at the DCR Middlesex Fells in Stoneham and the newest race, the Big Bad Wolf 5-mile combination road/trail run in Ipswich on Sept. 21.

The post-race parties include a dance-off and beer provided by local brewers including Notch Brewing of Ipswich, Slumbrew of Somerville, Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project of Cambridge and Baxter Brewing of Lewiston, Maine. In addition, the brewers have entered teams of runners to compete in the events (full disclosure: I’ve run for Team Notch in several races).

“Our series is all about celebrating craftsmanship. We pay attention to the small details: handmade ceramic trophies for the winners, live graffiti painting at parties, etc.,” O’Connor, who formerly lived in Danvers, said. “The beer had to be the same. It’s awesome to have someone like (Salem resident) Chris Lohring from Notch Brewing pouring beer at our races that he brewed by hand just a few weeks earlier.”

The party atmosphere has turned the typical C5K race into much more than a half-hour event. “Most of us run by ourselves all week, so it’s important to have events where runners can stay and meet each other,” said O’Connor. “We want runners to look forward to our races and stay until the very end.”

Lohring, himself a runner, has been involved with C5K races since the first Yulefest 5K in 2010. He co-founded Tremont Brewery in the 1990s and returned to brewing in 2010 with Notch, which makes lower-alcohol session beer.

“Cambridge 5K attracts all types of runners and the post-race parties are just flat out fun with a good diversity of interesting local beer,” said Lohring. “Runners and beers are a natural, and the post-race party really reflects that.”

Business has been good, Lohring said. “We had a huge April, and our momentum is really building. It’s been difficult to keep in stock,” he added. “It’s also been really fun to see session beer exploding, where three years ago beer geeks laughed at me for focusing on session beer. Good thing I listened to runners instead.”

Loco Sports of Newmarket, N.H., started out in 2003 selling running shoes and eventually began organizing road races to promote the brand. But the races quickly grew in popularity and took over the business, said Mike St. Laurent, whose title is Chief Loco Officer. At its first race, Loco teamed with Smuttynose Brewing of Portsmouth, and the two companies have worked together ever since.

“We found that if you include Smuttynose in the event name, it increased registration by 30-40 percent,” said St. Laurent. As a result, Loco now organizes the Smuttynose Palooza 5K, the Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon and the Will Run for Beer 6K, which took place two Sundays ago and featured more than 1,300 runners and 12 kegs of beer at the after-party.

In all, Loco had 20,000 people run in its 13 races last year. “There’s been a huge resurgence in running, that’s for sure,” said St. Laurent. “Craft breweries have grown at the exact same time ... they definitely complement each other.”

O’Connor agrees and is expecting big things for the Big Bad Wolf race in September. “Based on the sign-ups so far, we think Big Bad Wolf will be our biggest first-year race ever. Eventually we think it will be one of the best races on the North Shore,” he said.

“Ipswich Ale just built a multi-million dollar brewery in downtown Ipswich and Big Bad Wolf will be one of the first major events that’s held there. The MBTA commuter rail goes directly to the start, so we expect quite a few runners from Boston and Salem to sign up.”

Starts and stops

Beginning June 24, North Shore Road Race Guide will host free monthly Monday night 5K runs starting and finishing from New England Running Company in Beverly at 6:45 p.m. These runs will be timed and results will be posted on the North Shore Road Race Guide website. Runners will receive a 15 percent discount off of their food order at Not Your Average Joe’s when they mention that they have participated in the run. For more info about the run, contact: info@northshoreroadraceguide.com.

---

On the Run is a biweekly column about the North Shore running scene. Send any questions, comments, or news to jay.kumar@gmail.com.

UPCOMING RACES

agateText:Tomorrow

• Danvers 5K Fun Run, Sweet William’s Garden Center, 141 Pine St., Danvers, 7 p.m. Free, timed run. All welcome. These events are part of a weekly 52-race series. E-mail adam@danvers5k.com.

• 44th Annual Lynn Woods Summer Cross Country, Lynn Woods, Great Woods Road, Lynn, 6:30 p.m. Every Wednesday from May 29-Sept. 25. Free. Three races. Contact: Bill Mullen (Lynn Woods Summer XC) at 1-978-535-3905 or email bill@lwrun.org.

Thursday, June 13

• No Rest for the Wicked Weekly 5K-ish, Salem Common, Salem, 6:45 p.m. Free 3.2-mile run. Contact info@wickedrunningclub.com.

agateText:Friday

• Miles for Mission Mosquito Run 5K, Gordon College, 255 Grapevine Road, Wenham, 5 p.m. 5K to raise money for the Imagine No Malaria Initiative of the UMC. Contact: Scott Masters (Asbury UMC) at 1-603-762-0764 or email pastorscott2007@yahoo.com.

Sunday

• Rockport Fathers Day 5K/10K Road Race, Rockport High School, 24 Jerdens Lande, Rockport, 9 a.m. Contact: Barbara Berry (Cape Ann YMCA) at 1-978-283-0470 x1719 or email berryb@northshoreymca.org.

agateText:

Wednesday, June 19

• Danvers 5K Fun Run, Sweet William’s Garden Center, 141 Pine St., Danvers, 7 p.m. Free, timed run. All welcome. These events are part of a weekly 52-race series. E-mail adam@danvers5k.com.

• 44th Annual Lynn Woods Summer Cross Country, Lynn Woods, Great Woods Road, Lynn, 6:30 p.m. Every Wednesday from May 29-Sept. 25. Free. Three races. Contact: Bill Mullen (Lynn Woods Summer XC) at 1-978-535-3905 or email bill@lwrun.org.

• 20th Annual Louise Rossetti Womens 5K, Lynch Park, 50 Ober St., Beverly, 6:30 p.m. Also 2-mile fun walk. Contact: Jill Page (North Shore Timing) at 1-978-927-4203 or email michael.page5@verizon.net.

agateText:Thursday, June 20

• No Rest for the Wicked Weekly 5K-ish, Salem Common, Salem, 6:45 p.m. Free 3.2-mile run. Contact info@wickedrunningclub.com.

agateText:Friday, June 21

• Marc’s Mile, Beverly High School Track, 100 Sohier Road, Beverly, 5 p.m. 1-mile Fun Run/Walk to remember Marc Burns. Contact: Jill Page (North Shore Timing) at 1-978-927-4203 or email michael.page5@verizon.net.

Visit www.northshoreroadraceguide.com/race-calendar for more race listings.