Run for Beer... and for the Parks!
The Chicago Parks Foundation is thrilled to kick off our third year of partnership with the Illinois Brewery Running Series! From April through October, you can participate in the series of "5K-ish fun run courses" that all start and end at local Chicago breweries. The series has served as a great resource for our Team ChiParks marathoners, but it's a fun way for anyone to spend their weekend, regardless of your experience level.
The Brewery Running Series originally started in Minneapolis in 2012, and has since expanded to seven other states, including Illinois in 2016. With each state giving back to a local charity of their choice, the series has raised over $70,000 in total since its start. A portion of all proceeds from the IL Series supports us at the Chicago Parks Foundation.
This week, we caught up with Serena Pomerantz, Co-Founder and Event Director of the IL Series. Serena has lived in Chicago since 2011 and, of course, is an avid runner and beer drinker herself. Check out why she's looking forward to this third year of Running for Beer!
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CPF: This is our third year serving as the beneficiary for the IL Series. How was that choice originally made and what excites you about it?
SP: "Be active, have fun, give back" - that's our motto at the Brewery Running Series. In general throughout all of our cities, we really like to give back to parks foundations. The parks are where we like to run, and parks foundations like CPF are committed to keeping our parks clean and committed to health and wellness. Our missions really align.
What role do our parks play in your life as a Chicagoan and specifically as a runner?
Chicago in the summertime - you can't get much better than that! Bike paths, running trails... I personally only got into running a few years ago and it has totally changed my life. I've made new friendships, gotten stronger physically, and built my self-confidence. And it's a lot more fun to do all of that stuff outdoors than inside on a treadmill!
This year you have 13 different breweries on the schedule for the season. How do you choose which breweries to include in the series?
We always go for ones that have taprooms so that we have a good space to hang out. We also try to pick neighborhoods that are interesting to run around - scenic, but also convenient and accessible for our runners. Metropolitan Brewing is one that we've added to the 2018 series that I'm particularly excited about it. They have a brand new taproom with a river view and, being on June 9th, it will just be the perfect time of year.
What's at the root of your passion for the Brewery Running Series?
What I love about this city is all of the different neighborhoods. I'm an avid beer drinker myself, and each taproom that we visit throughout the series has its own personality. It's a cool way to avoid the runs feeling too repetitive.
Another piece that's important to me is the community building. Beyond the social connections, we're really into exposing our other local partners - artists, fitness and yoga studios, running stores, snack companies. There are so many opportunities to showcase those partnerships within the series.
If you aren't running the Chicago Marathon or if you're new to the running scene, can you still participate in the series?
Yes! Walk, run, crawl - who cares, there's beer at the end! We encourage people of all different fitness levels to participate - some are training for big runs, some are running their first ever 5K with us. The runs aren't timed so it's a great introduction for beginners. And Chicago is such a runner-friendly city because it's flat, so it's a great place to get your feet wet before you try somewhere like Denver or Seattle.
We met a couple from Boston last year who were trying to run a 5K in every single state, and they made a special trip to Chicago just for our run. We get some really cool stories of what running has meant to each runner.
Tell us about your kick-off event coming up this Saturday!
Our pre-season open house is at Fleet Feet in Lincoln Square this Saturday from 6-8pm. A lot of our participating breweries will be there with free samples, so it's a great way to taste some beers, shop around, and decide which runs you want to be a part of.
We'll have early registration for the series available at a discounted rate, as well as discounts on Fleet Feet merchandise, raffle prizes, and more. Our first run of the season isn't until April 28th, so this is a great way to get jazzed about the upcoming warm weather!
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And if you love being active and giving back, consider running with Team ChiParks! There is still plenty of time to join us for the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.