As you make your way around Central Oregon this weekend, you might see a few wildly decorated vans filled with sweaty, smelly runners ringing cowbells. That’s right… it’s relay season. And this Saturday is the second running of the Bend Beer Chase which is growing quickly to be one of the most popular one-day running relay events, anywhere. It also features a standalone, two mile fun run / pub crawl called the “Keg Leg” for anyone who isn’t quite up for the relay.
If you’ve never done a relay, here’s how it works! Gather a few friends or co-workers and form a team of up to six runners. The more team members you have, the less you have to run! The course is broken up into legs, and these shorter distances are divided (somewhat) evenly between team members. At the start, the first runner takes off with the other teams. From there, the rest of the team hops into a support vehicle – usually a van or SUV. They might stop once or twice to cheer on their runner before meeting them at the first exchange point. This is a predetermined spot on the course – staffed by official race volunteers and with designated parking – where the first runner will “tag” their next teammate who can then start their next leg. For the Beer Chase, if you have six runners then everyone will run two legs, which works out to about 10-13 miles for each person.
The relay course starts at Worthy Brewing on the east side of Bend, heads up to Redmond, over to Sisters, and then back into Bend. The official finish line is at Crow’s Feet Commons in downtown Bend. Along the way, runners will visit both brewery locations and “pop ups” along the course, all offering 3-5oz samples of beer and cider. Between Sisters & Bend, teams will also stop by Bendistillery where they can sample gin & vodka from tiny thimble-like vessels.
If you happen to travel along the following roads, you might see runners and their support vehicles: major roads on Bend’s east side (27th, 18th, Cooley), Bend-Redmond highway, major roads in Redmond (S Canal, Antler), Hwy 126 between Redmond & Sisters, Jeep trails east of Sisters (NF-4606, NF-900), rural roads between Sisters & Bend (Trout, Harrington, Gist, Sisemore, Couch Market, Collins, Walton, Pinehurst, Mock, Tumalo Reservoir), and OB Reilly Road in Bend.
Please roll down your windows and cheer them on! You’ll probably get a smile and a wave, and cheering is less jarring than honking your horn. Runners also love hearing ringing cowbells, so if you plan to cheer, bring one along and ring it to show your support
The Keg Leg
After finishing the relay at Crow’s Feet Commons, teams run the two mile “Keg Leg” as a group. You can also register to run just the Keg Leg – either meet up with friends who are relay runners, or gather your own group to enjoy this running + pub crawl experience. The “Keg Leg” includes stops at Bend Brewing, Deschutes, Silver Moon, McMenamins, Atlas Cider… and finishes at Crux. Roads where you will see the most Keg-Leggers are between downtown and the Old Mill – especially Bond and Arizona.
This wouldn’t be an event put on by the great folks at Cascade Relays without a party at the finish line. There will be sixteen breweries pouring at the event, along with food and live music. Crux will definitely be hopping and filled with excitement. The organizers have also arranged for shuttle service between Crux and downtown Bend, so tired runners won’t have to walk back to their relay vehicles after enjoying the finish line festivities.
You can still sign up for the Keg Leg, and relay teams are still looking for runners. Packet pickup is tonight at Outside IN, downtown. Stop by and ask the volunteers any questions you might have. I hope to see you out on the relay course, along the Keg Leg route, or at the finish line party. Cheers!