Another year, another Dogfish Dash – and another PR.
This marked my fourth (and fastest) time competing in the event; it’s easy to stay motivated mid-race when you know that a good finish will ensure a shorter line for great beer (even if the hill at the end of the course seems steeper than it did the first time around). As has become our usual routine, we arrived at the brewpub the afternoon before, shortly before packet pickup was officially set to begin; like last year, they were already handing out packets, but there were not yet long lines. Pro tip: send one member of your party in to put your name on the list while you retrieve your bib, bag, t-shirt and wristband – we do this annually and have never had to wait longer than about half an hour (though of course it’s always much more crowded than on a typical Saturday afternoon in the off season – a major reason we usually try to get down to the beach more often in the fall and early spring). This year’s bags were particularly nice – collapsible, but capacious. The free Chicory Stout posters were a pleasant surprise as well.
Once inside, we enjoyed the Repoterroir – a pentagon-shaped collaboration with ingredients and brewing magic from Dogfish Head, Allagash, The Lost Abbey, Sierra Nevada and Avery. It was especially pleasing to find a ‘special’ but not terribly strong beer on tap – perfect for sampling and carbo-loading! Without going into a full review, the beer really showcases a number of unusual flavours, with the mint and ‘beach’ wood really standing out; it’s a bit of an Everlasting Gobstopper in a pint (and that’s a good thing). This year’s Punkin Ale is very fine indeed as well, and late lunch/early dinner was enjoyed by all.
The next morning, we arrived at the brewery early; parking seemed easier than it had in previous years, so it seems that lessons from previous years have been well-learned. I would suggest a bit more organization at the start for next year; there are pace markers, but they were largely ignored, perhaps because the race was so well-attended – while it was a nice ego boost to be passing some of the slower runners (and walkers) in the early miles, it was a bit traffic-jammy, and might be worth separating out the 5K and 10K in the future – but it’s a minor quibble.
Once things were underway, the race volunteers were fantastic, as in previous years – water (in eco-friendly cups) is plentiful, and the split where we 10Kers leave the 5K folks was well-marked. The 10K course loops around Milton, taking in much Victorian architecture and some interesting old graveyards, before finally coming back through town – and back to the brewery. The water bottles (like the bags, collapsible) at the finish were great – I’d been thinking of buying one of that variety anyway – so getting one just for running 10K seemed a reasonable exchange! This year, there were two beer tents – one with some of the ‘lighter’ beers (including Lawnmower Light and Shelter Pale Ale and My Antonia, with the other tent offering Indian Brown and Punkin – the 60 Min IPA was available at both. The beer lines definitely seemed longer and slower than in previous years, but that is no doubt simply further evidence of the race’s popularity – hopefully next year there will be more capacity in that regard, but again, it’s another reason to train hard and finish strong! My only other suggestions for future improvements would be to run shuttle buses from the brewpub to ease the parking (and driving) situation, but that’s largely because it would be incredibly convenient for me to walk from the beach house to the brewpub – still, I’m sure it would be helpful for others as well, if something of a logistical challenge.
We took the short version of the brewery tour again after obtaining beer – it seems there’s an entirely new part of the building every year – and there were many wonderful things for sale in the shop. Back outside, we wandered around for a bit, checking out the best of the costumed runners; perhaps next year, I’ll even get around to doing the keg sprints.
Once again, it was a great race, with money going to a great cause…I’d love to do a half-marathon that finishes at the brewery some time. March would be perfect…