By Cassie Hurwitz | Photo Courtesy Brewery Running Series
Health food and exercise are a logical match. Fitness gurus everywhere have a preferred combination of reps and recipes, often including leafy greens, lean proteins and whole grains. In Wisconsin, however, the mix of food and exercise takes a new turn.
For runners, couch potatoes and foodies alike, the Dairy State offers a slew of “food runs”—typically 5Ks that incentivize participants with scrumptious snacks. Sun Prairie’s Cheesehead Challenge, for example, may seem like a standard 5K. But at every 1K completed, runners can stop for cheese samples. “Everybody loves cheese,” says Christy Jagfeld, director of the run and treasurer of Dysautonomia International, the event host. Raising money for the relatively unknown nervous system disorder is their goal. “This is our big hurrah,” says Jagfeld. “[We want to get] the word out there.” Catch it Saturday, April 27, and get training—the winner will be crowned “the big cheese.”
When Brat Fest rolls into town, sign up for the 5K or 10K Bun Run, a race around the Alliant Energy Center’s Willow Island on May 25. Runners can sweat it out to earn a Johnsonville Brat before joining the Brat Fest party. The normal race doesn’t allow dogs, but there is a separate 5K, aptly named the Dog Jog, that welcomes furry friends.
If running for cheese or brats isn’t your speed, there’s the Wisconsin Brewery Running Series. A collection of 5Ks around the Milwaukee area and one at Madison’s Karben4, these events allow participants to end their run with a few cold ones. “The whole concept is about supporting local craft breweries,” says event director Sarah Lockwood. “We have fun, we give back and we drink beer.” Sprint and sip in Madison on May 11, or head to The Fermentorium on April 27, MobCraft on May 4 or Lakefront Brewery on July 13—among 12 other locations until early November—for Milwaukee’s share of boozy bouts.
Finally, for those with an incurable sweet tooth, head to Milwaukee’s Donut Dash on April 27. According to Chad Beres, president of the Wisconsin Riders, “It’s a 5K with a twist.” This twist is exactly what it sounds like—a jog for the fried, sugary treats. With each donut gobbled up along the way (provided from local institution Grebe’s Bakery), participants can shave off two minutes from their total race time to create a “donut reduced time.” More importantly, however, the dollars raised benefit the Wisconsin Riders, a group dedicated to remembering fallen officers. “People always like to joke with cops and donuts,” shares Beres, “so why not make a little bit of fun with the situation.”
Running does not have to be synonymous with healthy food, as Wisconsin’s selection of events proves. With spring developing and summer just around the corner, schedule in one of these fun runs to remind yourself of the balance between exercise and indulgence.