Tag Archives: Almar Orchards

Scrumpy Skedaddle Recap: The V.I.P. “Inside” Report

Last Sunday was the second annual Scrumpy Skedaddle at Almar Orchards. Hard to believe it’s been a year since the notorious happenings of 2014! But there I was, with a couple thousand of my best friends, lining up for a sprint through the orchard on a brisk fall day. Overcast and drizzly? Who cared? This was gonna be fun!

Scrumpy - 10K Run

The 10K takes over the orchard.

Last year’s Skedaddle, as has been related on this blog, had issues with long lines for the porta-potties and the cider and pancakes after the race. I’m happy to report there were big improvements this year, with shorter lines, a much better course layout, and the addition of the 10K and the two-race “Cider Slam” – which, of course, I just had to do. Along with Run Woodstock, the Skedaddle is becoming one of my favorite events – and you all know I’ve run a lot of events.

The 5K and 10K both started out on dirt roads, then into the orchard on wide grassy strips between rows of apple trees. It gave the run a feeling of intimacy, even of exclusiveness, despite the large number of runners. It had the best features of a trail run without the hazards of rocks and roots.

Scrumpy - Running in the Orchard 2

The Head Goat (orange jacket) directs traffic.

Randy of Running Fit Events (orange jacket), a.k.a. “The Head Goat”, directs traffic.

I ran the 5K hard – not my best time, but solid. And the top four age 50-59 runners (which included me) beat all but one of the 40-49 group. We rock! Then I ran the 10K easy, which is why you see these photos of the course. What a contrast! Instead of focusing on my breathing and pace, I could relax and take in the scene around me, just running for the fun of it.

2015 Scrumpy - Post-race Cider

I could have done this all afternoon.

Like last year, the post-race food was excellent. They moved the pancake production outside, with two lines, so everything flowed smoothly. The live band was a nice touch, too. And the hard cider on tap was amazing; not too sweet, with just a touch of tartness from the mild fermentation. Scrumpy in the bottle is good, but this is unbelievably good. And they do it just for this event.

Can I have one of these installed in my man cave, please?

Could I have one of these installed in my man cave, please?

And finally, what I know you’ve all been waiting for: what was the VIP potty like? Well, here you go!

The outside.

The outside.

The magic pass that got you in the short line!

The magic pass that got you in the short line!

Happy passholders. (And note the guy on the far right who'd like to know why he's in the LONG lines.

Happy passholders. (And note the guy on the far right who’s not too happy about being in the LONG lines. Hey, it’s all about who you know, fella!)

And as a special bonus, exclusively for my readers: the INSIDE VIEW!

VIP Potty - inside

Loaded with amenities.

Reading material!

Reading material!

Specially printed toilet paper!

Specially printed toilet paper!

Will I be back for 2016? You bet, VIP or not. And you all should come along. Even if you’re not a dedicated runner, you’ll have a good time. It’s a cider mill, after all. How could you not have a good time? See you there!

A V.I.P. What? You’re Sh**ting Me

IT ALL STARTED WHEN I broke one of my cardinal rules on race day. And now just look where it’s taken me. I suppose I should be honored to receive a V.I.P. of anything. But this? Well, read on and judge for yourself.

Scrumpy Bottle with Finishers MugThe Scrumpy Skeddadle is the final event of the Thirsty Three, a set of Running Fit Events races linked with certain beverages. “Scrumpy” is a Scottish term for hard cider, and Almar Orchards makes a brand of cider known as J. K. Scrumpy’s. The first-ever Skeddadle took place at the Almar Orchards cider mill in October, 2014, and there I took the fateful steps toward what is possibly a first-ever event in running.

The trigger was my decision to have a cup of coffee on race morning. I never do this because it has digestive consequences that would be very inconvenient during a run. But the Scrumpy began at 10:00 a.m. and I was up before 7:00, so I figured I was safe.

But as I drove to the orchard in Flushing (*) I began to feel the need, so to speak. By the time I parked, the need was becoming urgent. I went into the store and headed for the bathrooms. Locked. Due to the large crowds, I suppose, everyone had to use the porta-potties. And with over 2,200 people there, the lines were long.

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

This is from Hightail to Ale. Scrumpy’s lines were, shall we say, a bit longer.

You can read more about what happened here, in last year’s post on the subject. All I will say here is that I was not in my happy place, and I took it out on the poor longsuffering race staff. Turned out I was not the only one with this complaint (**) but perhaps I was the only one to hear about it later from the poor longsuffering race staff.

Determined to make amends, I delivered some flowers to them after the race with a vase of my own design:

Flowers in Porta Potty Vase

I wrote on the card, “The next time people give you sh**, you can put it in this.”

The RF Events folks had a good laugh and posted it on their Facebook page. I figured that was the end of it, so to speak, although someone made an off-the-cuff comment that they oughta create an official porta-potty for me at some future race.

Fast forward to Run Woodstock two weeks ago. I was standing around waiting for the 100K race to start when Mandy, one of the RF Events staff, came up to me.

“I have some exciting news for you,” she said. “Do you want to hear it now, or after the race?”

“Oh, tell me now,” I said, not knowing what condition I’d be in fourteen hours later.

And she told me. And here it is:

The RunBikeThrow VIP Porta-Potty

Yes, the off-the-cuff remark actually came to pass. And my lucky readers can be a part of it!

Anyone reading this post who’s going to the 2015 Scrumpy on October 4 can share with me the exclusive right to use my V.I.P. facility. Just sign up for the race (5K or 10K), then email me at jeff(at)runbikethrow.net and ask for a pass. I have a limited number, so it’s first come, first serve.

I ask nothing in return. However, if you do get a pass, I would love it if you would consider making a donation to any Humane Society.

Here are some other good reasons to run the Scrumpy Skeddadle:

Scrumpy Skeddale Bottle Opener Finishers Medal* You get a finisher’s mug and it will be filled with hard cider on draft. And if you buy some of their bottled cider, you can use your finisher’s medal to open it!

* You get a pancake breakfast catered by Chris Cakes of Michigan. They’re known for flipping the pancakes onto your plate from several feet away. Worth it for the entertainment alone!

* The energy and excitement of a morning at the cider mill.

* Fresh air and exercise, and a fun run through their orchard. You can run the 5K, 10K, or, if you’re feeling up to it, run both and get a “Cider Slam” award.

Hope to see you there! If not, fear not – I will take plenty of photos. (From the outside.)

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(*) No, the irony was not lost on me.

(**) Pun intended, of course. They always are.

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.