Running a 5K usually means dragging yourself out of bed early on a Saturday to plod through a race and then munch a bagel or some fruit with all the other fitness masochists. It can be a little grim. For a little grin to break up your running routine, let me recommend the Hump Day 5K.
Each Wednesday evening, dozens of runners meet at Mr. Beery’s, the craft beer bar in Gulf Gate. There’s no race clock or anything like that. Basically, everyone runs down to Beneva Road and back.
Then there’s beer, conversation and sweaty good fellowship.
“This is the coolest thing,” said Chris Common, a Wednesday regular. “You do your workout and then you get your beer. You never see anyone in a bad mood.”
‘No crap on tap’
Scooter Mahoney, the general manager of Mr. Beery’s, started the Hump Day runs about a year and a half ago. He was surprised that so many runners kept coming back, even through the peak heat and humidity of summer.
“I have no idea why,” Mahoney jokes, “because it was awful.”
He teases runners about how the smell of the bar changes after the 5K runs. No one seems to mind. People vote with their feet — and their feet run to and from Mr. Beery’s each Wednesday.
Runners get a card punched for each run. After 25 runs, they get a beer glass. After 50, they get a gift certificate. After 100, they get a race jersey with cool slogans.
“No crap on tap.”
“There’s Good Beer at the Finish Line. That’s Why I Run.”
A couple of weeks ago, I finally made it out to Gulf Gate after work on a Wednesday.
I spent most of the Hump Day 5K chasing Jeff Ellis, technical director for the Sarasota Ballet. Afterwards, in the Mr. Beery’s parking lot, we talked a little about running. Ellis does group runs and races several days a week. Interesting. I told him that I almost always run by myself.
“Oh, I never run by myself anymore,” Ellis said. “I need the companionship. I need someone to push me.” After interviewing Mahoney, I told him that I didn’t know anything about beer, but once enjoyed some blonde ale on a camping trip. He recommended a Kona Big Wave, which Mr. Beery’s runs through something called an “Infusinator” to give it a flavor hint of strawberry and vanilla beans.
My glass of Big Wave beer cost $5, which reminded me of John Travolta’s famous “Five-dollar shake” speech from “Pulp Fiction.”
You know what else? That beer tasted pretty darned good, and the Hump Day 5K seemed like a great idea. The next time I have a free Wednesday I’ll have to go back and do it again.