3.1 miles, 4 beers, costumes and fun, those were the basic facts I gleaned from the information about the Bend Beer Run before giddily signing up. Let me preface this story with the fact that I wasn’t planning to drink the 4 beers that would be offered to me at various intervals throughout the 5K (3.1-mile) run. And I didn’t drink them. Well not all of them anyway.
I signed up for the Bend Beer Run, not to drink beer (I can do that while sitting and standing still just fine), but instead I thought it would be a fun way to tour a city I had recently developed a little bit of a crush on, while catching up with a few friends from town, and burning off some cals (many soon to be negated by the beer). Here’s how it went.
The run started at a plaza not far from where the Bite of Bend, a street fair celebrating local food and drink, was in full swing in the middle of downtown. The first mile sent us running down the path through Drake Park, Bend’s riverfront playground for all ages. Views of still-snow-capped Mt. Bachelor, the Three Sisters, and all of the mountains that hug Bend surrounded us, reminding me of all the winter fun that this currently dry sunny spot will bring later in the year.
Before heading over the river, we passed a familiar spot, Riverside Market, a place that touts itself as “the market where you can park it,” meaning grab a chair, sit down, enjoy the afternoon and sip on what I have been told and have to agree are the best Bloody Mary’s in Bend (I’ve only sampled theirs actually, but they are that good).
After passing Riverside we crossed the river on the pedestrian bridge, where I had a great view of folks pumping up inner tubes and getting ready to float the slow meandering Deschutes, something we were later enjoyed for post-run activities.
The next half mile kicked my butt was quite strenuous, but eventually we made it to our first beer stop where Cascade Lakes’ beer in 6-ounce cups awaited the hoards of hot sweaty runners pouring in. I was thankful we weren’t being served pints as it was only noon and I had 1.6 miles to go, but my plan to only drink a beer at the last stop flew out the window quickly when I learned that the only water on hand was pool-temperature from sitting in the sun. I enjoyed just a few frosty sips and several dashes through the sprinklers before continuing on.
My jogging tour of Bend continued with a jaunt through a riverfront neighborhood past houses which I learned later, had patios and porches just steps from the river. Less than 10 minutes later (I’m starting to think I set a record-slow time on this 5K, but who’s counting), we arrived at Columbia Park where 10 Barrel Brewing was offering samples of their tasty suds and runners were taking a well-earned rest, lounging in the grass.
Our final beer stop was just a few minutes away, back at the corner of Drake Park the long stretch of grass that sweeps through Bend, skirting the edges of the river. Sipping on a beer from Deschutes Brewery, Bend’s most famous beer makers of the 12 in town, and one of the most well-known Oregon brewers in the nation, we hung out and chatted with a woman who had coincidentally guided us on our tour of the Deschutes Brewery the day before.
Finally on our way to the finish line, having managed to stay hydrated with just a couple of the six-ounce beer samplers while sharing plenty with my thirsty friends, we powered onward, for a few more minutes through Bend’s quaint boutique and café-lined main streets. Just before crossing the finish line back in the middle of town at the edge of the festival, we passed our non-running friends who’d pulled up chairs at a bar steps from the end of the race, gave a few high fives, and jogged in a display of ridiculous triumph through the finish line.
The Bend Beer Run was a great way to explore the city and spend some time with friends, without having to drag them out to any of the usual tourist haunts, plus there is of course the added benefit of getting in a little exercise (and just a little “carb loading”) while traveling. Whether its beer, Gatorade, or any other perk offered along the route, running, walking, or biking a 5K is a great way to tour a new place and enjoy a non-competitive race.
Do you know of any good beer runs or running tours in your favorite cities?