More Fun Than Run
by Melinda Boudreaux
- This month: Icy Pint Athletics combines running and beer (AFTERWARD) in a monthly Fun Run at the Mockingbird!
The sun is all but set at 6:00pm, when Jacqueline, the president of the Bay St. Louis chapter of Icy Pint Athletics, calls everyone’s attention on the top step. She reminds them of the 5k route and gives some quick updates. Just like that, with the words, “And remember, the first one back is first in line for beer,” everyone starts running. And walking. And biking. They disappear down Second Street, casting long shadows under proud Bay St. Louis street lamps.
Everything about this bunch of athletes says fun and community. Most of them seem to shy away from the terms “athlete” or “serious runner” altogether. Jacqueline corrects me, “I do triathlons all the time, and I’m not a serious runner!” Instead, they talk about IPA like it’s a group of friends getting together once a week for some beer. After all, half of the experience is the icy pint that rewards you back at the Mocking Bird. “We run for beer!” exclaims Katie Dauro, a mother of two small children who attends the Fun Run most weeks. In fact, if you run, walk, or bike the short lap around Old Town, your second pint is free. ”Plus,” Katie reasons, “You burn the calories you’re gonna get in the beer.”
It’s clear, though, that Katie, Jacqueline, and all of their IPA friends don’t just run for beer. They come together to laugh, to train, to spend time with their families, and to show each other support. They all know they're part of something bigger than their own fitness goals or best times.
“We hold each other accountable,” Katie explains. “Somedays I don’t want to come, and some days my friends don’t want to come.” At the end of the night—beers in hand and endorphins pumping—it all seems worth getting off the couch. They call it accountability, but it seems much more like a fellowship of encouragement.
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Tonight, a band fills the warm air inside the Mockingbird with folksy music, something that happens often, but not every Thursday. In the warmer months, bands play outside on the stage. The crowd of runners is much bigger then, too. “In the summers, we have around 80 [participants]. In the winter we get down to five or six,” Jacqueline says.
Regardless of the weather, there are always some devoted to run. The Mockingbird Cafe is the loyal host to the Bay IPA. Like the best symbiotic relationships, IPA guarantees hungry runners and thirsty beer enthusiasts, while the Mockingbird provides the beer, tasty food, and (often) live music. A sweet deal that fosters community relationships and supports local small business.
It all started in Ocean Springs when Eric Collum was—as the IPA website explains--“enjoying a cold beer after a run and asking himself ‘Why am I not doing this with my friends?’” Then, when Jacqueline noticed the running community in the Bay, she wondered why she traveled all the way to Ocean Springs for IPA. Eric responded with a quick “sure” when she asked if they could start one here.
In the 2 years since Eric started IPA in Ocean Springs, over 500 people have come out to at least one run. The numbers continue to rise weekly. Many have already hit the 100 runs mark, like Jacqueline who just earned her IPA visor this month for reaching the triple digits. Eric is here to present it to her after she awards multiple perks to faithful “Top Shelf” members who hit milestones today.
Attending the Happy Hour Fun Run is completely free, but signing up for the Top Shelf Membership sets you up for a great list of perks. The annual membership is $25, which offers benefits like official IPA merchandise, runners insurance, discounted and free training sessions, and discounts at IPA events and local merchants. It’s definitely worth it for anyone wanting to run often and run well.
To top off the Icy Pint, there is more than just weekly fun runs in three locations (Ocean Springs, Bay St. Louis, Gulfport). They host runs and other events, represent at local runs and triathlons, offer training and workshops, and just simply hang out sometimes. As their website boasts, “If you ever run, even if it’s only a few feet; if you like to drink; if you want to help create awesomeness… you are in the right place.” That is if you’re running with Icy Pint Athletics.
For more information about the fun runs, the annual membership, or what IPA is all about, go to their website, icypintathletics.com, and Facebook/IcyPintAthletics.