Monday, April 4, 2011

Race Report: Brew-to-Brew 2011

Brew-to-Brew (B2B) is a 44 mile relay race that starts at Boulevard Brewery in Kansas City, MO and ends in Lawrence, KS near Free State Brewery.  The first running was in 1995 with 254 participants.  The race sold out this year, but I don't know the number of participants.  Cystic Fibrosis is the event's charity.

The race start is staggered with the first team's start at 6:00am and continues every 30 minutes until 9:30am. There are 10 total legs, many of which have their own unique challenges.  The challenges are there more due to keeping the course off of major thru-fares than by actual design.  The first few legs involve stairs and climbing up levee walls.  Leg 7 involves a boat crossing (or you can add another mile to your leg to avoid the crossing).  Leg 6 has a massively long hill for 2 - 3 miles and is also one of the longest legs of the race.  Legs 8 & 9 are on gravel and dirt roads.

Make no mistake about it, this is very much a beer/alcohol related event.  Running is probably the only reason this day doesn't get too out of hand.  We had 10 gallons of beerita (see below) to keep our runners hydrated.... oh, plus over 100 bottles of water.

The Day
Our three teams kicked off at 8:30am.  Due to various reasons, we ran between two to four runners during the race event.  The overall group consisted of 20 people: 17 runners and 3 drivers (2 runners came from North Carolina.... Go Kenny and Megan!).  I'll mention now that a lot of effort was put into this event.  Maybe more than the actual event itself.  Organizing 17 runners involves a lot of work that team mom (My wife, TKB) managed quite well.  Along with the 10 gallons of beerita and bottles of water purchased, there were 12 bananas halved, 20 oranges sliced, 20 team t-shirts handcrafted, 50 bags of chips procured, 70 sandwiches made, and thousands upon thousands of words digitized to communicate the plans.

In my typical paranoia of race day, I check the forecast daily as it enters the 10 day forecast range.  It ranged from 50 degrees and cloudy to 80 degrees with isolated thunderstorms.  What we got was sunny and 85 degrees!  Oh... and 25 - 35 mph sustained winds with 45 mph gusts.  With the early spring nature of this race, there was very little blockage of this wind as trees had not developed leaves yet.  The only solace found was in the valley's of hills; however, that meant that as soon as you crested a nasty hill you almost get blown back down it when you hit the wind.  On multiple occasions I heard people say "This was the worst run in my life" due to the wind.

Team T-shirts
Team T-shirts are always difficult to figure out.  While there is a small committee who make the decisions for the race, I finally threw out the idea that was ultimately used:

Joe VI showing off his work.
All runners received "I drink ... beers per mile".  (One runner had one with COCKtails as she was drinking margaritas for the event).  All drivers received "I drive ... drunks per mile".  Here was the deal:  For every beer you drink, you get a black tally.  For every water, you get a blue tally.  Once you hit three black tallies in a row, you must drink a water or no more black marks.  Beautifully executed by Team Mom so that she could throttle the alcohol intake.  I'm pretty sure a few of the team members were thankful for the water rule the day after.  We had plenty of people from other teams request pictures of people with our t-shirts, so I guess it was a success.  For the record, I only had 3 black marks as I was more concerned with keeping things in order (such as not leaving behind a runner at a checkpoint).

Legs Breakdown
1: Kenny and Megan
2: Joe VI and Lauren
3: Dan and Anne
4: Carmen and Kristen
5: Danny, Sean, Ben, and Kristin
6: Ben, Kristin, Mark
7: Larianne and Mark
8: Shane and I
9: Stephen and Kenny
10: Stephen and I

Kristin was training for a half-marathon which takes place the following weekend, so she and Ben took two legs in a row.  Due to some last minute shuffling, we had open spots for 9, so Stephen ran two in a row.

My Legs (The route legs, not my appendages)
Leg 8: I actually ran two of the same legs this year as I did previously (last year I actually did leg 4 too).  Leg 8 has rolling hills the entire way.  This helped block the wind but as soon as we reached an open stretch of farmland without trees on the road, we were hit hard.  The first two miles were mostly dirt road but the second half was gravel.  I would never recommend running on a gravel road.  It may strengthen some aspects of leg and foot muscles but this isn't the way you want to start.

Leg 10: This was running on top of a levee for 4 miles and then taking a bridge into Lawrence to hit the finish line.  The first 1.5 miles was full on 35mph wind gusts but once the road started going straight west, there is a nice line of trees to block the wind.  Stephen and I walked a couple times on the route.  The long day was catching up to us.  Stephen was getting some bad dry mouth (he had just completed leg 9) and we found some nice fellow B2B-ers who were willing to share a bottle of water.

My Legs (the appendages, not the route legs)
While my total mileage is less than my current long runs, you do not consider the 6 - 8 previous hours of standing and milling about while you wait for runners to finish their legs.  Running on gravel road and then on a trail just added to it.  While the levee trail was "flat" there was enough variation on the path that your body is constantly making minor adjustments that cause your knees and hips to ache.  Cardio-wise I was in great shape.  If you are digging into the beerita, you'll have some internal issues going on with dehydration.

This day presented another problem that many may not have taken into considerations.  The second half was in 80+ degree weather.  While the wind helped cool the skin, it was still hot.  It takes a few weeks for the body to acclimate itself to running in such warmer weather.

While I did wear my Garmin, I'm not concerned with analyzing the data.  I know my pace times sucked so I'm not going to bother making any sense of them

Overall - Event Critique
Out of this post I have yet to speak of the event organization itself.  They could definitely do a better job with formal communication.  If anything, create a Facebook page for communicating information.  Some information comes from "Kansas City Track Club" and some is decimated from a personal e-mail account of the race director and little concern for privacy as everyone's e-mail addresses are sent out in a massive "TO" line.  This really needs to be changed.  The packet driving directions could be improved over the hand drawn map.  We have the technology... let's use it!

Being a team relay event that takes place all day, I don't expect much from aid stations or post-race festivities.  We didn't stay to see if there was any post-race festivities.  They do provide food and drinks for solo racers but since I didn't run solo, I don't know if that was sufficient.

Overall Overall
It was a very Very VERY long day as we finished around 5:20pm. We had a great time but the wind zapped most of the energy out of people as well as add many layers of grime.  Re-applying sunscreen was like applying sandpaper to the skin.  I didn't get a chance to review the food but when back in KC but we had the right amount of food and beerita.  Not sure when Brew-to-Brew 2012 will be scheduled but you can bet we will be there.  Depending on my training schedule, I might consider doing a solo "6 leg special".  That's right, I said that.

Did you run Brew-to-Brew?  Visit this site and follow the first link to survey it:

The Team!  It was only missing TKB who was taking the photo.

Transition 1 to 2: Kenny handing our "baton" to Joe VI, a ball.  It got lost somewhere.

Transaction 2 to 3: Joe VI receiving his post-run beerita.

Kristin and Ben coming in strong at Transition 6 to 7.  You are ready for your half-marathon for sure!!

My Gatorade Commercial

Shane and I taking off at Transition 7 to 8.

Shane and I coming into Transition 8 to 9.  GRAVEL!

Stephen just finishing leg 9 and prepping for Leg 10.  Me tweeting.

TKB and I's favorite photo of the day.  Ben's look is priceless!!

Bonus - Beerita
Many people wonder what the heck Beerita is.  Well, here it is:

Four 12oz Cans of beer
1 Cup of Tequila
1 Jar of frozen Lime-aide

Serve on ice with a slice of lime.

This recipe may sound absolutely disgusting but is 100% delicious.

This is simply a ratio, so expand as needed.  For instance, our 10 gallons of beerita was 60 cans of beer, 15 jars of frozen lime-aide (I hope no one else at Walmart needed lime-aide that day), and 3.5 liters of tequila.

If you are spending more than $8 - $9 making a gallon of beerita, then you are doing something wrong.  You MUST use the cheapest beer, cheapest tequila, and cheapest lime-aide you can find.  If you use quality ingredients, it will suck.


  1. No offense to Ms. "who thinks Joe will be the first one to break the rules," but the water marks were totally my idea. As a consequence, I remember the whole thing. Turns out, It takes too long. Next year, we should have time trials and pair by speed so that we can take advantage of our faster runners. Goal of 6 hours? (8am-2pm)

  2. I completely agree that the water marks were your idea... I'm not sure why Scott alleged to it being my idea. I think it worked really well in terms of keeping everyone hydrated on such a hot day. Also, minimized hangovers! I need to find a double-ended sharpie with both colors, as fiddling with the 2 different ones was a pain in the ass.

  3. @Joe VI -- blog post corrected.