Some of the Best Food and Drinks I’ve Had at Races

I’ve known runners that ran a race simply for the food and drinks at the finish. One of the nice perks of running a race is indulging afterwards. While I can’t say I chose a race based on the food or drinks they offered, I have had the pleasure of indulging in some unique and delicious foods and drinks after races. There have also been races where I’ve been nauseous and not felt like eating or drinking anything but fortunately those were not very common.

For simplicity’s sake, I’ll start at the oldest races I ran and work my way to the most recent races.

I first heard about the food after the Kiawah Island Half Marathon from my co-worker who recommended the race to me. Not only did she say the course was fast and scenic but also the post-race food was amazing, and she was right on both accounts. There was white bean soup, local fresh vegetables with basil pesto spread, organic pasta salad with grilled chicken, sweet corn bread muffins, sliced oranges and bananas, and hot chocolate, tea, and lemonade to drink. Kiawah Island Marathon and Half Marathon, South Carolina-4th state

When I ran the Arbuckles to Ardmore Race for Mercy Half Marathon in Oklahoma I had been suffering from what turned out to be my first bout with anemia, so this was by far my slowest and most difficult half marathon to date, not because of the course but because of my poor health. My doctor said I shouldn’t be running at all and couldn’t comprehend how I possibly could be, but she didn’t understand how stubborn I could be when it came to running. It was nice to be rewarded with warm cinnamon rolls at the finish of this race, and even more so given my struggle. Arbuckles to Ardmore Race for Mercy Half Marathon, Oklahoma-21st state

The huge spread after the Kaiser Realty Coastal Half Marathon in Mobile, Alabama may have been thanks to the sponsor of the race, BP. Elite runners Deena Kastor and Johnny Gray were also there thanks to BP and that was fun to hear them speak. Whatever the reason, the food was amazing. There were crab cakes, shrimp and grits, crab corn chowder, seafood gumbo, rolls, shrimp and oyster po boys, and chicken fingers. Kaiser Realty Coastal Half Marathon, Alabama-23rd state

I didn’t really expect the food after the Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, Virginia to be anything special but it was pretty good. There was an abundance of Yuengling beer and tasty Irish stew, a perfect combination, and nice on a breezy March day at the coast. Shamrock Marathon, Virginia-24th state

The Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon in Portland Maine is known for their huge after-party with a food and beer garden full of music, Shipyard beer, pizza, and ice cream. This should come as no surprise since the town of Portland, Maine is well-known as a foodie destination. Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon, Maine- 31st state

You’d better bet there were plenty of hot baked potatoes after the Famous Idaho Potato Half Marathon in Boise, Idaho. At the finish line, we were rewarded with baked potatoes with a wide array of toppings like bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, salsa, and chopped green onions. Famous Potato Half Marathon, Idaho-42nd state

I never would have expected so much food at the White River Half Marathon in the small town of Cotter, Arkansas. There was chocolate milk, water, donuts, bagels, bananas, sausage biscuits, lemonade, Gatorade, coffee, hot chocolate, chili, a variety of soups, and pizza, and it was all freshly-made and tasty. White River Half Marathon, Cotter, Arkansas-44th state

Another small race where the food was surprisingly good was the Seashore Classic Half Marathon in Lewes, Delaware. There were hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream, beer, and Bloody Mary’s. Seashore Classic Half Marathon, Lewes, Delaware- 45th state

Most of the food after the Star Valley Half Marathon in Thayne, Utah was the usual bananas, orange slices, mini muffins, rolls, sports drink, and cold chocolate milk but what was special was cut-up watermelon. The watermelon was particularly refreshing to cool off with after a hard race plus since it’s mostly water, it’s great for re-hydrating as well! Star Valley Half Marathon, Thayne, Wyoming- 46th state

When you call yourself the Hot Cider Hustle Half Marathon you had better have some good hot cider. When I ran it in Omaha, Nebraska not only was the hot cider good and actually hot but there were also delicious caramel apples, both with and without nuts on top. That was a first for me and I loved both the hot cider and caramel apples! Hot Cider Hustle Half Marathon, Omaha, Nebraska- 47th state. Note, there are many Hot Cider Hustle races, beginning in October and going through November, mostly on the east coast or midwest, with distances from the 5k, 8k, 8 mile, 10k, and half marathon.

Are there any races you ran where the food and/or drinks were unique or memorable? What were some of your favorites? Have you ever run a race simply for the food or drinks they offered afterward? Or are you one to just not feel like eating or drinking after a race and the thought of eating right after a race turns your stomach?

Happy running!


How to Avoid Falling Into the What If’s of Travel

There are so many things that can go wrong when I travel I’m sure if I stopped to think about them all, I’d never travel. My flight could get cancelled, my flight could get delayed and I’d miss a connecting flight, my airplane could crash, I could get mugged in the city where I’m traveling to, I could get sick or injured while on vacation, I could lose my passport/drivers license/money, a natural disaster like a hurricane/earthquake/tsunami could happen while I’m on vacation, and on and on. These are all non-COVID-related things, too. COVID-related things that could happen add another layer of complexity.

Some of the things I mentioned above have happened to me while on vacation or even before I went on vacation. Flights have been cancelled and delayed but I dealt with that and was still able to travel. I’ve gotten sick and others with me have gotten sick, although fortunately nothing too bad that some drugstore medicine and rest in the hotel room wouldn’t take care of. Major events have never happened to me while on vacation, however.

I think most of us fall into two types of people when it comes to travel: those that are willing to take the leap of faith that even when things go wrong on vacation, everything will work out in the end and those that are too afraid and unwilling to travel because of the unknowns and things that can go wrong. For this post I’m not talking about travel during the pandemic, because that changes things too much beyond the ordinary. I’m referring to non-pandemic-related travel.

I went to some remote parts of Chile and am so glad I did!

One of the best things you can do to put your mind at ease before you travel is do some research. As the Scout motto by Robert Baden-Powell states, “Be prepared,” you should be ready to act on any emergency so that you are never taken by surprise. This means not traveling to the Caribbean during peak hurricane season or if you do so, be willing to endure the consequences should a hurricane strike while you’re there. It could also mean not venturing to an area of a city known to be unsafe while you’re traveling or studying up on local customs for an area you’re traveling to, especially for international travel. You can also bring some supplies with you like anti-diarrheal pills, Bandaids, antibiotic cream, and others so you don’t have to make a drugstore run when you really don’t feel like it. Do your research to see if you need specific immunizations for the place where you’re traveling.

Another thing you can do to protect yourself is to buy travel insurance. There are many types ranging from insurance that covers major catastrophic events (like hurricanes) to ones that just provide basic health insurance to ones that cover your luggage should it get lost by the airline to complete total insurance that covers everything from cancelled airfare, hotel, rental car, and any other travel-related expenses. As you can imagine, the more that’s covered by the plan, the more money it will cost. You have to weigh the pros and cons of each plan and decide which one is a better fit for you. Some “high risk” activities are also not covered under some travel insurance plans, so if you plan on going skydiving for example, know that anything that should happen as a result likely won’t be covered under most plans unless you buy insurance specifically for that.

Hiking in this remote section of Austria was incredible!

Being prepared is only the first step, however. You can be the most prepared person ever but if you never decide to take the plunge and actually travel, what good is it? You have to make plans to travel and follow through.

If you’re the type of person that’s naturally cautious or hasn’t traveled that much, start out small and build your way up. To put it in runner’s terms, you wouldn’t go from running a couple of miles a couple of days a week to running a marathon; nor should you go from barely traveling to traveling to a remote place in another country.

I’ve traveled to many off-the-beaten-path places but I built up my comfort level over time. I didn’t go to Europe until I was 32 years old and even then it was to the popular cities of Venice, Florence, and Rome in Italy. Even though I absolutely loved Malta when I went there a few years ago, I wouldn’t have been ready to go to the remote sections there in my 30’s. I did a typical progression for my international vacations of going to places like Italy, the Caribbean, Canada, Mexico and progressing to Germany, Austria, Greece, New Zealand (a long flight but easy transition for Americans), and finally visiting countries that are “harder” for Americans like Chile, Malta, the Canary Islands, and Peru.

Hiking in the Canary Islands was otherworldly.

Just like most things in life, if you throw too much at yourself (or life throws it at you unexpectedly) at once, you become overwhelmed, either physically or mentally depending on what it is. But if you gradually see that you can in fact handle difficult things in life, you get better at adapting when difficult things are thrown your way. For example, I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to communicate efficiently to the Spanish-only-speaking people in Chile, especially in the remote sections I was going to, but when I got there and saw time after time that I could communicate well enough to the people and understand well enough what they were saying to me, I felt more and more comfortable. Not that it was easy and not to imply I’m a very good Spanish speaker, because my Spanish is really not that great, but the point is it was good enough and that’s all that mattered.

I think if you’re traveling to another country you should have a certain level of street smarts in order to stay safe. Unless you grow up in an inner city, most people don’t learn street smarts until they’re adults. For me, I began to become street smart in college. I was told where the “bad” neighborhoods of my college town were and not to go there alone at night. I learned to look over my shoulder when I was walking by myself and pay attention to my surroundings even during the day. I took self-defense classes and was taught self-defense moves by a military guy I was dating. When I visited Washington, D.C., I learned more of what not to do and as I traveled more and more, I picked up more street smarts. It’s a difficult thing to teach someone, however, and it’s really more of a skill set you just acquire over time, except for defense moves, which I recommend everyone learn.

In the end, all of what I’m saying is this: do your research to be as prepared as you possibly can be and gradually build up your confidence level by increasing your discomfort level little by little. If you do both of these things, you should find yourself more comfortable going to places that were previously too scary to you. Because really isn’t that the bottom line for questioning everything travel-related, the unknowns scare you? While there will always be unknowns before every vacation, if you can reassure yourself that things will usually work out in the end, that should put your mind at ease and allow you to experience the vacation of a lifetime.

Have you traveled to a place that you were initially nervous about going to? Do you like to travel to off-the-beaten-path places or to places where you feel comfortable?

Happy travels!


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