Grumpy at the Scrumpy, But It Comes Out All Right

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: If you’re going to a place with a lot of people and things to drink, get there early.

Last Sunday was the Scrumpy Skedaddle, the final event in Running Fit’s “Thirsty 3” series. Like the Hightail to Ale (at the Atwater Brewery in Detroit), and Running Between the Vines (at the Sandhill Crane Vineyards), it was themed on a drink – in this case, cider – and was held at the Almar Orchards near Flint. The entry included a post-race mug of cider (hard or soft) and pancake breakfast.

These guys flip pancakes right from the griddle onto your plate. Never saw them miss!

These guys flipped pancakes right from the griddle onto the plates. Never saw them miss!

The place was packed with 2,200 runners, their families, and other visitors out to enjoy the pancakes, fresh cider and donuts. It was a beautiful, cool fall morning, and the race course wound through part of the orchard. In all, a perfect day and setting for running and enjoying the after-party.

Not all was sunshine and apple blossoms, however. This being the first year of the series, a few hiccups were inevitable. With Hightail, it was an hour-long wait to get the free beer. At Vines, parking was a challenge. At Scrumpy it was long lines for something more personal.

This is from Hightail to Ale, but you get the idea.

This is from Hightail to Ale, but you get the idea.

With just about every race I run, certain bodily functions go into overdrive before the start. It doesn’t matter what I eat or drink, or whatever else I do prior to leaving the house; when I get to a race location, I need to use the facilities. Sometimes there are proper restrooms, but more often it means using the porta-potties, and close to race time the lines can be long. And this time they were very long. As in football field long.

My need was rather urgent, so there was no other option. Running a 5K with my legs squeezed tight would have been somewhat awkward. As I eased into line, someone on the race staff I know walked by.

“Hi, Jeff,” she said. “How’s it going?”

“Fine,” I said, “except that these lines are too damn long.”

Scrumpy - StartShe showed me a line that was actually moving pretty fast, and I managed to hold it together until a unit freed up. All was well after that, and I got to the starting line just before the gun. Despite almost no warmup, I managed a sixth-place finish and an age group win by several minutes. I got my finishers mug and filled it with Almar’s amazing hard cider. Life was good!

Until I wandered over to the staff tent to ask where the awards were. “I can walk you over there,” someone said, “but are you going to bitch at me?”

Oh, crap.

Back in that line, I hadn’t meant to be mean – I was just venting my frustration in the midst of a crise biologique. But it must have sounded different to the poor race staff. My temporary annoyance had probably been echoed by many other people, and the staff had likely taken a lot of sh** over it. I apologized; it had never been my intent to hurt anyone’s feelings.

Other than that little incident, the event was terrific. The house cider, J. K. Scrumpy’s Farmhouse, is made with organic apples, and has a light, sweet taste with just enough tang in it. I don’t drink much alcohol, and hard cider is usually too dry for me. But I really like this stuff. And it’s even better on tap. Can’t wait for next year!

Check out the swag! Clockwise from bottle: age group winner glass, finisher's mason jar mug, medal / bottle opener, metal hanger for the Thirsty 3 medals, shirt. (Okay, I bought the bottle.)

Check out the swag! Clockwise from bottle: age group winner glass, finisher’s mason jar mug, medal / bottle opener, metal hanger for the Thirsty 3 medals, shirt. (Okay, I bought the bottle.)

And Running Fit Events has already said they’ll run the Thirsty Three in 2015. I’ll be there, and anyone who’s into these kind of events should check them out. These guys do a first-class job, and the glitches will be fixed. (For my part, I’ll be sure to get there earlier.)

As for the race staff – I made up a little gift for them by way of apology. If you’d like to see it, they posted it on the Scrumpy Skedaddle Facebook page. Or you can see it here. Here’s a hint – if people give you sh**, grow roses, I always say. Actually, I just made that up.

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“Scrumpy,” by the way, is a type of cider originally made in England, but is now the general term for cider made in small quantities using traditional methods.

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