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.