On the Road: Thirsting for glory in Harrisburg

Senators' 1K Beer Run an unlikely combination of fitness, alcohol

On May 10, the Harrisburg Senators held their second annual 1K Beer Run. Participants drank three beers over the course of three laps.

By Benjamin Hill / MiLB.com | May 21, 2018 10:00 AM ET

"Some people are very serious about their running, and some people are very serious about their drinking. But they're usually not the same people."

That's how Randy Whitaker, general manager of the Harrisburg Senators, sums up the contradictory spectacle that is the 1K Beer Run. The Senators -- Double-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals -- staged their second annual such race on May 10. Approximately 220 people took part, most of whom were content to emphasize drinking over running. 

Most, but not all. Josh Sadlock won this year's race by a wide margin, finishing his third and final lap (and beer) while no other competitors were in sight. Sadlock, dressed in running gear and spotted before the race doing a series of serious-seeming stretches, was desirous of a clear-cut victory. Last year, that didn't happen.

2018 Road Trip

"[The 2017 race] was a disputed photo finish between myself and a guy from around here, Fred Joslyn," said Sadlock, speaking while enjoying a celebratory beer in the wake of his win. "There was no fully automatic timing, so we're disputing who finished the final chug first. But I was either first place or a close runner-up last year." 

Sadlock, who finished this year's race with a time of 4:15, was nothing if not prepared. 

"I've been running about seven or eight miles a day, and I drink a decent amount on the weekend," he said with a laugh. 

Video: Harrisburg hosts Beer Run

The Harrisburg Senators aren't the first Minor League team to stage an on-field beer run. In fact, at least three of their Eastern League counterparts have done so: the Akron RubberDucks, Erie SeaWolves and Bowie Baysox (the winner of one Baysox beer run documented his experience in this Ben's Biz Blog post). The specifics of the run varies by team. In the Senators' case, participants started near the left field foul pole, raced along the warning track and paused at a station set up down the first base line. There, they drank a beer (a Coors Light, for those keeping score at home) before resuming the race. At the end of the third lap, runners headed off the field and drank their final beer in front of a finish line on the first base concourse.  

"It's not like you're running around the field tipsy," said Sadlock, who may not have been entirely sober while conducting his interview. "You don't really notice that until the end. It's just the feeling in your stomach that you've got to fight through." 

For those interested in running the Senators' 1K Beer Run, it was nothing if not a good deal. A fee of $25 covered race participation, three beers, a ticket to the game and a $4 donation to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

"I like creating those events that are different than just coming out with your family -- which is what this is," said Senators group sales director Jessica Moyer, who organized the 1K Beer Run. "And the biggest part of this, that I think is what we do different from some of the other teams, is we tie it into charity." 

Moyer handled the logistics of the event. This included emailing waivers to all participants beforehand, separating the runners from the "non-runners" before the race, and distributing wristbands equipped with three rip-off tabs redeemable for one beer each during the race.

But there are, of course, some things that can't be planned for.

"We didn't have anybody throw up," Moyer said. "That was our biggest worry last year, was that: people throwing up. But most people don't actually run and drink. They pick up the beer, walk and drink, throw it away and then run the rest of the way around the warning track." 

There was one unexpected wrinkle, however, in that a freak hail storm occurred just as most participants were running their final lap. 

"Last year, sun and 75 [degrees]," Moyer said. "This year, hail. Who knows what could happen next year?"

Tweet from @bensbiz: A true American hero: Man procures Coors Light from @HbgSenators 1K Beer Race finish line in the midst of a freak hail storm. ���Ouch,��� says man. pic.twitter.com/t74XxxfIz1

No matter what happens, there's a good chance that Sadlock will be back to defend his title. 

"It's a really fun way to drink, because you've got the endorphins from running and then you're drinking, and it all comes together at once," he said. "It's a really fun event. I think maybe more Minor League Baseball teams should try this."

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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