Saturday, October 2, 2010

Tipple's Beer Run (4-Mile Race)

Quote of the Race:
Random spectator friend at the finish line: "There's no beer."
Me: "WHAT?!?!"
Random spectator: "Yeah, right after the race started and ATF agent or someone showed up and shut them down because they didn't have the right permit."
Me: "Are you effing kidding me? That's horrible. What the hell? I'm going to get my T-shirt before everyone finishes and there's a riot!"

Location - Tipple's Brews, Gainesville, FL.
Cost - $30 FTC member pre-register, $35 non-member pre-register, $45 day of registration
Year of Running - 1st
Sponsor - Florida Track Club, Zen Fitness & Tipple's Brews
Charity - Fundraiser for FTC
Number of Participants - 417 (finishers)
Available Races - 4-Mile
Course Condition - Asphalt paved road mixed with concrete sidewalks. Flat, straight and Fast.
Pace Groups - None
Expo - None (packet pickup is on race day)

Considering this was an inaugural race with what seemed like a surprisingly good turnout there are definitely some hiccups that FTC needs to and will undoubtedly address. Overall pre-race organization was with good intention by organizers, but seemed to be overwhelmed by too many participants in a confined space. It's a Friday race that starts at 6 p.m. Registration and check-in was open at 4 p.m., but most of the participants did not or could not show up until after 5 p.m. since it is a workday. We showed up at 5:10 p.m. and waited patiently in an awfully slow line just to pick up our bib numbers and timing chip in a room at Zen Fitness that was not big enough to accommodate the number of people trying to check in at the same time. It would have worked better if it was in a larger room or simply set up outside with more volunteers. I also saw a few participants that were obviously there for the beer rather than the run who were very confused by the check-in process, which was set up logically, but could have been more efficient. Parking was stressful, but organizers gave plenty of warning and suggestions through email prior to the event of where to park. It is, after all, Gainesville. Spectators were average for a race like this as a few people turned out along the course to ring cowbells and there was a large crowd at the finish line cheering the runners down the chute. Support along the race course was excellent with plenty of aid stations handing out water. There was even an aid station (official or unofficial?) with 1/2 mile to go handing out only beer!

Gainesville is Gainesville; the largest university in Florida and one of the largest in the country. There is traffic when school is in session so plan accordingly. There's a regional airport in Gainesville, good taxi services and excellent bus service. Interstate 75 runs within a few miles from the start line making it an easy drive from other major cities in Florida.

Goodie bags (reusable sack-style backpacks) were given out after participants finish the race. Inside the bags were a really nice race logo engraved drinking glass (obviously meant for beer), various sponsor information and coupons and a mini-box of cereal.

At the finish line water and Gatorade were available as well as bananas and Domino's pizza (cheese). The top 3 male and female finishers received prize money $200/$100/$50. Each master winner got $100. The top 100 male and 100 female finishers received a black cotton T-shirt with race logo. NOTE: Organizers advertised that many prizes would be raffled off at the post race party including someone winning their "weight in beer." I cannot comment on if this happened or not because after we found out there was no beer we left to drink beer elsewhere.

I was very excited about this race the second I heard about it. In fact I registered weeks before Jenny did. Some of our Gainesville friends were planning to participate so the idea was we could visit them, run the race and Jenny can do her last long run (22-miles) before her marathon with some of her other friends also doing it since I'm not training for the full marathon.
We both took off work early Friday afternoon and started the 2+ hour drive to Gainesville and arrived about an hour before race start. There was an amazing turnout (I guess what you would get in a college town if you're advertising free beer) and most of the participants looked like college age students -- young and fast! There were even multiple guys and girls wearing bloomers with yellow racing flats! We found our friends and had time to socialize before the start.
As planned I decided that this race should be hashed. About 15 minutes before the start gun I found my way back to the truck and made my famous concoction of Redbull, Gatorade & Vodka. The last time I dabbled with this nonsense was the Run for Haven 5K back in March. This time around I made the drink a little weaker so I wouldn't be too buzzed. By the time of the start I was wide-eyed and happy and ready to run like a maniac.
It was a relaxed start. Basically everyone followed the race director up a small hill and into a residential neighborhood and then blew an air horn and everyone started running. We were all sort of in the middle of the pack. I took off running and didn't look back. Jenny and Katie decided to fun run together (they have a 22-miler ahead of them this weekend) and I started passing people and working my way into the right pace group of people for me. There were several guys dressed up as pink flamingos (did I mention there was an unofficial costume contest) yelling at the top of their lungs "cawwww.... acaaaaawwww." It was so annoying I decided to run harder to get away from them. There were a group of guys dressed up as construction workers, but looking like that guy from the Village People. Running next to them I could hear them laughing at the pink flamingo guys and joking that they had been outdone and that they were supposed to be "those guys."
I ran harder.
At this point I can see the lead pack breaking away about 100-yards up the road. They are absolutely flying at right around a 5-minute pace. The crowd thins out as we make a turn off a main road and down a narrow sidewalk. I pass up the aid station water to save time. It's only 4 miles and the weather is great!
At the halfway point I'm breathing hard, too hard. I look at my watch and see that my split time between mile 1 and 2 was sub-7 minutes. Damnit! This is way too fast and knowing that I'll never be able to sustain it I slow myself down to try and catch my breath. Other runners begin to pass me. In fact, runners pass me for the rest of the race. I've definitely started too fast on this one. During the last mile I'm forced to slow down a little bit more. I think the vodka/Redbull/Gatorade is getting the best of me. Note to self: Don't do this again no matter how "fun" it sounds!
With 1/2 mile to go I see an aid station. I toy around with the idea of taking a sip of water or splashing it in my fast. Right as I'm about to reach out for the cup I see that it's beer and quickly retract my arm. I'm already feeling like I'm going to hurl and the last thing I want to do is slam a beer or pour it over my head! I get a short burst of adrenaline during the last few hundred yards as there are people cheering and the finish line is in sight. I was hoping for anything under 30-minutes. Before the race I used the McMillan Running Calculator with my Half Marathon PR from a couple weeks ago to estimate my 4-mile race time and it came out at 31:12. After that I decided that anything better than 31:12 would be acceptable, but anything sub-30 would be fantastic!
I crossed the finish line and the clock read 30:35. I'll take it! Someone cuts off my chip and hands me a ticket for a T-shirt. Kickass! I was fast enough to get a T-shirt. I turn around the side of the chute and look back and Jenny and Katie are finishing about a minute behind me. We then learn about the "beer tragedy" going on and assess the situation. Apparently, they are only allowed to serve beer within Tipple's Brewery. Now let's face it. That business is not large enough to accommodate 500 people. Soon a line forms outside the business and stretches down the block. I'm told you have to drink the beer inside as well and can't have an open container in the parking lot. This does not sound fun at all. Then we hear that Florida Track Club is giving out refunds. Soon we decide to go get cleaned up and go out for proper post-race beer and food at a restaurant of our liking.
For the record, I believe that FTC did everything properly and despite a situation gone bad, they handled it the best they can. Giving refunds until they ran out of money and offering to mail refund checks to anyone else that wishes to get one was a good call on their part. I don't know the entire story, but it sounds like some authoritative official has it out for one of the sponsors or FTC. I mean, who the hell shows up in the middle of an event and shuts it down with no warning? They had to have known before hand and could have saved a lot of trouble by making a simple call to the race director BEFORE THE RACE! Florida Track club has issued this statement on their website and emailed it to all the participants:

First and foremost, thank you. The outpouring of support over what happened at the Beer Run was astounding. It was clear things did not go as planned, but the number of people who were supportive and encouraging far outweighed the other side of things. Thank you so much for your support.

Secondly, I want to express my most sincere apology. My team and I poured ourselves into this race and truly left no stone unturned. The specifics regarding the permitting issue are still murky to me, but separately, 2 of our representatives were told on 2 different occasions that there was ABSOLUTELY NO PROBLEM with the beer festival. In fact, they accepted payment for the permit. To put it mildly, we were surprised when an enforcement agent showed about 30 minutes before the event and left us with literally no option but to shut down. It was heartbreaking personally, but more so because the Florida Track Club is a non-profit organization that supports so very many other non-profits in town and this race was our most critical fundraising event of the year.

Third, and most importantly, our sponsors, Zen Fitness and Tipple's Brews had NO part in any piece of the event's challenges; this was a Florida Track Club event and the blame lies with us. These are two local businesses that made tremendous efforts to support this event and our community, and they should be commended. Zen Fitness and Tipple’s Brews are models of what good corporate citizens should be and I hope you'll join me in thanking them for their leadership and generosity.

Finally, I want to apologize on behalf of the Florida Track Club. We were told and believed we were in compliance. It's not clear what we should have done differently but I will tell you we WILL make every effort to make this right. We look forward to partnering with Tipple's Brews and Zen Fitness again to bring you an absolutely amazing follow-up race & beer festival.

Again, thank you for your support & encouragement. We hope you'll give us another shot - we can't wait to throw the kind of party you deserve.

Jake Logan - Race Director

I will close with saying that no matter who was at fault for what happened, it's a shame that an event meant for a good purpose in a town where hundreds of similar events happen each year purely for profit was hampered down upon by some stupid rule or misunderstanding. If FTC holds another event similar to the Beer Run, I WILL give them another chance and participate.

My official stats:
79th out of 417 total finishers
8th in my age division out of 39
Official time: 30:35
Watch time: 30:25
Average pace: 7:38 (with positive splits, lol)

Tipple's Beer Run (4-Mile Race) = C

Post race celebratory drinks at The Red Onion!


  1. Congrats on a fantastic 4 mile race! You had a pretty good time:) I love how you always seem to be having fun! Take care!

  2. I am very amazed by the data of this weblog and i am glad i experienced a look more than the blog. thank you so much for sharing these kinds of excellent information.