Most runners choose races based on the location, the terrain, the crowds, or the reputation. I often choose them for the food.
For years I ran a nasty, hilly 5-mile trail race because of the post-race pancakes and sausage. The California International Marathon serves up warm tomato soup, but this pales in comparison to the hearty minestrone ladled out at the Big Sur Half Marathon on Monterey Bay. The one race where I could have used some hot soup—the rainy and cold Mayor’s Midnight Sun Half-Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska—we instead received fruit and fresh bread.
The strangest “food race” I ever ran was the America’s Finest City Half Marathon in San Diego. Somewhere around mile 10, next to the volunteers distributing water and electrolyte drinks, there was a group of guys around a grill handing out hamburgers.
After the race, they served beer. But the city of San Diego frowns upon alcoholic beverages in Balboa Park, so race officials had to set up a tiny, fenced-off area where you could drink your beer. Imagine, if you will, a large mob of sweaty, beer-drinking runners, crammed shoulder-to-shoulder, fenced off from friends and spectators in a public park. It was unusual, to say the least. (The race no longer serves beer, “because of liquor liability and insurance issues.”)
Some races heavily promote the post-race food to attract entrants. The Hartford Marathon touts its distinction as the home of “some of the best post-race food in North America,” according to The Ultimate Guide to Marathons. Race organizers have even published the post-race menu on their Web site, which includes organic spinach orzo salad with roasted vegetables, homemade apple crisp with fresh whipped cream, yellow rice and beans, and grilled plantains.
What are your favorite race food memories? Worst (or wurst)? Share them in the comments section and I’ll run an update to this column in the future.