Monday, April 13, 2015

HOMETOWN PROUD

On Saturday morning I watched a race.

And...I loved it.

All day Friday I signed books www.muldowneyrunning.com at the packet pickup for the 3rd Annual Yuengling Light Lager Jogger 5K, http://www.lagerjogger.com/ held in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, home of Yuengling, America's Oldest Brewery.

I met hundreds of runners who were delighted to come to my modest hometown of about 15,000 residents, to climb numerous hills, on narrow, pothole-ridden streets, for the opportunity to run a race in order to sample fine beer which has been brewed in the same location, on the side of Sharp Mountain, fed with pure spring water, since 1829.

3,000 runners toed the starting line, or got fairly close to it. It took my daughter, Kelly, nearly three minutes to touch the start pad at the beginning of the race. Hoisted in the arm of a local fire engine's bucket, Yuengling owner, 5th generation Yuengling, Dick, started the field, promptly at 9:00 a.m..

The top three runners for both the men and the women were very fast, but this was a people's race.
There was a "Spartan," clad in Yuengling Lager garb, and one of the top finishers was "Lord Chesterfield," which happens to be a delicious brand of Yuengling beer.

The two-mile mark on the course is located on the final hill, one last nosebleed before runners complete a final downhill mile to the finish and oceans of Yuengling beer. It is also about 100 yards from my house. So, along with my wife and dog Dixie, a loving chocolate Labrador Retriever who loves runners, we took a short walk down the hill to cheer on the competitors. We assured the runners that there were no more hills ahead, that they had a tailwind behind them, and that plenty of beer was being brewed a mile down the road.

The runners, as runners are, were grateful for the support and encouragement. Some stopped to pet Dixie; others took pictures in front of the lager bottle that served as the mile marker.

In all, runners from 33 states participated in the race, by far the biggest event our city sees in any given year.

Runners and races have the ability to breathe vitality and bring an energy to a community.

Pottsville was a happening place thanks to a fantastic race over the weekend.