RUN TO THE PUB: Locals pound the pavement over the hill for pints

Samantha Hill and Liz Kearney
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Who would want to run a foot race in a silly costume for a beer, a cupcake, and a chance to win a trip to Ireland waiting for you at the end?

About 4,000 people, to be exact — the number who participated in Saturday’s half-marathon and 10-kilometer run in Bozeman Saturday morning.

After about a week of uncertain weather, including snow, the clouds opened up just enough for a good day to enjoy exercise and beer during the Run to the Pub race on Saturday in Bozeman.

Run to the Pub is a fun run that raises money for the Bozeman Area Community Foundation, which contributes to area nonprofits. The race, in its 11th year, raised $10,000 for the BACC, race organizers said Saturday.

People began arriving around 8:30 a.m. to the downtown area in the middle of Main Street near Pub 317, the main organization that puts on the race.

Yellow school buses crowded the streets to carry the more than 4,000 participants to the starting gates. It was a little over 40 degrees that morning, but it was comfortable thanks to the nice sweat-wicking shirt that came with the race packet swag.

While some chose to run a half-marathon, which equates to about 13 miles, others ran or walked the shorter distance of the 10K — a little over 6 miles.

After the buses hauled everyone to the starting gate by Sacajawea Middle School around 9:30 a.m. for the 10K, it became obvious the lengths that people went to for their costumes before arriving. While some dressed in homemade tutus, crafted out of tulle and elastic, others dressed like superheroes and leprechauns, complete with dyed beards — and there was even a man in a sports bra.

A family that would later go on to win the costume contest was the group dressed as the “Paddy Wagon.” The two parents were wearing old-fashioned constable outfits with their baby’s ride a wooden box tricked out to look like a paddy wagon, complete with cute little bars on the windows.

When the 10K race began at 10:45 a.m., everybody began to run — even those who later made their way to the back of the pack to walk. The run took the crowd from Fowler Lane to South Third Street and then onto Sourdough Road, where the race met up with the half-marathon participants.

Although there were small inclines throughout the walk, there was always a water station or someone prepared to give out a high-five that made the trek more bearable.

As the last mile came and went, a woman running nearby in a group advised not running until you hit the corner, otherwise you will get too tired, referring to the corner to turn onto Main Street, the last small stretch of the race.

Despite taking it slow for most of the run, some participants chose to sprint the last few meters.

Most of the racers made it across the finish line in a little over two hours for the half-marathon, but the winner of the 10K finished in just over 30 minutes. And everyone received a bottle opener medal when they finished.

Numerous Park County residents participated in the race, including Dorothy Bradley, 70, of Clyde Park, who took second place in her age category in the 10K race.

“ I think there were two of us,” Bradley quipped Tuesday morning in a phone interview.

Bradley, a former Democratic candidate for governor who was narrowly defeated by Marc Racicot in 1992, moved from Bozeman to Clyde Park about nine years ago. She said this is the second time she’s participated in the Run to the Pub race. She’s also run in the more grueling Bridger Ridge Run, which traverses the Bridger Mountains over a 20-mile course with an elevation gain of 6,800 feet and a 9,500-foot loss, according to the race website.

Run to the Pub is an easier race since it’s all on pavement, she said.

“I find my steady pace and try to find my stride,” Bradley said. “On trails, you have to focus.”

Bradley posted a time of one hour and 10 minutes, for a very respectable 11 minutes and 20 seconds per mile.

Bradley exercises daily, either running with dogs on country roads, or getting in some skiing, either downhill or cross-country. Before she moved from Bozeman, she liked to go to cardio classes with music, but driving roundtrip to town for an exercise class wasn’t practical after she moved to Clyde Park.

“You have to find what fits. It’s a matter of keeping at it. I keep hoping (my activity) spurs other people on,” Bradley said. “My mother didn’t get near 70, and it makes you think, ‘Don’t waste it.’”

She praised the race organizers for how organized everything was, and for putting on such a fun, low-pressure race.

“It was an exuberant mob, and it was fun to a part of it,” she said, adding, “and it made money for the (Bozeman Area) Community Foundation — how fabulous.”

Bradley compared the race to Livingston’s annual Night Owl Run.

“I love the Night Owl. Everybody gets very joyous,” she said.

She cracked a joke about spending a day near St. Patrick’s Day in a road race rather than in the more traditional beer-quaffing celebrations.

“If you can’t dance on the table in a bar in Butte, then you can run to the pub in Bozeman,” she laughed.