While I don’t necessarily improve my time year after year, the Dogfish Dash does, indeed, get better and better. Thinking back to my first (and the second overall) Dogfish Dash back in 2008, it’s worth marveling at how the race has evolved. Back then, it seemed there were only a few hundred runners, and one only had to decide to register a few weeks in advance. The route went from the brewpub in Rehoboth Beach onto a small part of the (excellent) Junction & Breakwater Trail (and I am forever grateful for that introduction to the trail, which I now run every time I go to the beach), then turned around and finished back at the bar. Getting a beer involved some judicious-but-friendly use of elbows to get to the bar, but at least packet pickup had been relatively easy.
In 2009, the race moved to Dogfish Head HQ in Milton, and the move to the brewery meant more runners, but also more room on race day. While the hillier course took some getting used to, having the support of Miltonians all along the route was a nice touch. There were a few kinks to be worked out – food and beer lines were long – but even with a fair amount of construction, the brewery tour was still good fun. 2010 was not dissimilar, although as the race grew in popularity, it seemed to get more crowded, with a bottleneck going over the otherwise-aesthetically-pleasing footbridge in Milton.
2011’s Dogfish Dash was much the same, although I was much faster and set a new PR for 10K; my belief is that the long beer lines the year before boosted my time, and although I did not have long to wait on that occasion, going back for a second beer seemed out of the question after that point. It seems that the brewery tour is vastly different every year – it seems to double in size every time we visit. I was very slow in 2012, but this year, I bounced back a bit; in fact I set a new PR, just beating my 2011 record (after finally realizing that I’m not as slow as I think, and that I need to start further forward in most races).
But it wasn’t just my own time that had gotten better – once again, there was simply more brewery to enjoy, and the beer and food lines ran with Disneyesque efficiency. The slight alteration to the race route meant that that getting over the bridge was no problem, and that no doubt contributed to my better time. Rather than the anemic bagels and dodgy-looking bananas one often finds at the end of a race, this time there were great food options: quite tasty mix-your-own cereal, and much-appreciated breakfast burritos for runners. I would suggest that they paired perfectly with my Indian Brown Ale (or the Namaste I had later) – in any case, it was most welcome.
My only suggestion to improve the race going forward would be to create a separate division for walkers (not unlike the family-friendly 3K option offered as part of the Y12K), thereby freeing up more spaces for runners – given how quickly registration filled up this year (well under an hour), it might be one way to ease the pressure – and to still raise more money for The Nature Conservancy – but I don’t know if there would be space at the site or enough volunteers to go around to support a much larger event. That said, everything ran smoothly with larger numbers this year, so perhaps it’s worth considering.
All told, the Dogfish Dash continues to be my favorite race of the year – anyone want to send me to England to try the Adnams Southwold 10K for comparison?