Drenched in sweat, weary and looking exhilarated, about 600 runners crossed the finish line to pizza and beer Saturday at the fifth-annual Brew 2 Shoe Road Race in Manhattan.
The race celebrated the fifth anniversary of Manhattan Running Company’s existence in town and Tallgrass Brewing Company’s sixth year as an establishment. But the race involved more than just an acknowledgement of two companies’ presence in Manhattan. The proceeds from the race’s entry fees will go The Homestead, a ministry of Westview Community Church that helps victims of sex trafficking.
The link between a craft beer company and a running company might not be obvious. Manhattan Running Co.‘s owner, Ben Sigle, and Tallgrass Brewery’s owner, Jeff Gill, are friends who met in a young professionals club in Manhattan years ago. Sigle, a longtime runner, and Gill, a geologist turned “professional beer drinker,” teamed up to put on the race five years ago and the event has been growing in size ever since.
Sigle, 33, said the race started with about 180 participants in a 10K race. He said last year about 400 people registered for the event, but this summer they added a 5k, and 610 people signed up to run.
Sigle said he expects to donate $4,000 dollars to Homestead, which would be a similar figure to last year’s donation from race proceeds.
Going through 77 boxes of pizza in 30 minutes and 20 cases of craft beer, runners devoured the carbohydrates after their journey from Tallgrass, 8845 Quail Lane, to the Manhattan Running Company store, 3015 Anderson Ave.
Gill, 38, said runners were the company’s target demographic because they are generally well-educated people who live healthy lifestyles, and people with those characteristics tend to like craft beer.
Reflecting on whether consuming pizza and beer at 8 a.m. is part of a healthy lifestyle, Gill said, “It’s definitely not healthy, but these people have earned it, right?”
A determined Manhattan High School cross country runner Isaiah Koppes, 16, came in second at the finish line for the 5K race with an unofficial personal record of 16:30.
Koppes said he’s been running since fifth grade and he hopes to run on a Division I team in college.
Other members of the high school’s team were also at the race. Koppes said the top five boys on the team can run a 5K, which is 3.1 miles, in under 17 minutes.
Katy Karlin, 54, an English professor at Kansas State University completed the 10K - or 6.2 miles - at 55:57.
A Long Island, N.Y., native, Karlin has been running for most of her adult life, taking it seriously the last four years when she moved to Kansas to teach and adopted a running partner, her motivational dog named Rusty. Karlin said Rusty demands a run every day.
“One morning I didn’t go running, and he took my running shoe, put his paw in it and he flung it at me,” she said.
But Karlin said she didn’t become a runner because she was athletic.
“I was a nerd in school,” she said. “I was like the last person chosen for teams.”
Karlin, who didn’t go out for school sports, said she started to run in college initially to lose weight, but it quickly became more than that.
“Very soon it became about feeling good and seeing how far I could go. It became a very personal thing,” she said.
“That’s the cool thing about running is that anybody can get into it,” Karlin said. “It takes no skill; you just have to do it.” Karlin now runs five or six races a year.