Perfect Weather Makes Brew Run One To Remember

By: Brendan Samson

Topics: Running , Brewster

Racers cross the finish line at the 43rd annual Brew Run. The race had 790 registered runners, which is more than 100 more than last year. BRENDAN SAMSON PHOTO

BREWSTER – It’s not every day that a 5.2-mile road race ends with an ice cold beer, but on Saturday at the 43rd annual Brew Run, that is how many of the runners celebrated finishing.

The Brew Run, which starts at The Woodshed in Brewster and finishes right down the road on Route 6A, attracts runners from all around New England and beyond to compete and enjoy the community it forms.

This year, the community was made up of 790 runners accompanied by their families and friends and the many other Lower Cape residents and visitors who packed the route.

“It was beautiful,” said Ben Szuhaj, a 25-year-old semi-professional runner from Washington, D.C., who won the race with a first-place time of 26 minutes, 32 seconds.

As much as Szuhaj will cherish the win, he’ll also remember spotting a special supporter in the crowd.

“I was so lucky to have a great support crew at the starting line, and then in the first mile, I saw my college coach who was here unbeknownst to me, just summering on the Cape. The course was beautiful, people were cheering the whole way. It was really wonderful.”

Szuhaj ran track at Dartmouth before joining the Georgetown running club in D.C. He has been laying low this summer on the Cape with his girlfriend and her family but has started ramping up his training regimen recently. The Brew Run was his first race back since running in Europe earlier this year.

While the race was won by Szuhaj, who is just vacationing on the Cape for a couple months, the second-place finisher was Brewster native Finn Riley, 18, who grew up running the race.

“I run it almost every year and once I started running in high school and college, this was kind of a goal of mine to place pretty high in this race,” said Riley, a rising sophomore cross-country and track athlete at Texas Christian University. “I'm happy with how it went today, I ran a pretty good time for what I was looking for. I wanted to be in the 27 range, and I think I was like low 27s, so I was happy with that.”

Riley finished with a personal-best Brew Run time of 27:29 – a 5:17 mile pace, just 57 seconds behind Szuhaj.

Much like Riley, many of the runners on Saturday had competed in the Brew Run before. One of these runners was Kate Mitchell, 22, who was the first female finisher.

“I run the 800-meter, so this is a lot longer than my other races,” said Mitchell, a Lynnfield native who runs track at Boston College. “I was just trying to have fun. I wasn't really going for anything.”

Last year was Mitchell’s first time competing in the Brew Run. She decided to take part because one of her coaches at BC has been part of this race for a while. She enjoyed it so much that she decided to bring two of her teammates, Paige Carter, who runs the 800- and 1,500-meter, and Katherine Stanwood, who runs the mile, with her to run it this year.

The BC women weren’t the only Atlantic Coast Conference connection. Virginia Tech runner Patrick Forrest, who runs the 400-meter, also participated. Mitchell, Stanwood and Forrest are all from Boston suburbs, while Carter made the trek from San Diego to visit her friends and enjoy the Brew Run.

The entire group finished in the top 20 in their respective categories with Mitchell, Carter and Stanwood finishing first, second and fourth among females, respectively. Forrest placed 17th among males.

The Brew Run attracts hundreds of runners like Mitchell who are just looking to enjoy themselves. One of these is Conor Kenny, 30, who has run the race since 2014 and appreciates the atmosphere it creates.

“I always run this every year,” said Kenny, who works as the project manager for the town of Brewster. “Me and my wife run it all the time with her family, so it's kind of like a family tradition. It was really good fun, it's a nice community experience, I hope it continues.”

Another runner who participated because of her family is Amy Hughes, 49, who ran the Brew Run with her brothers last year and came back this year to enjoy the eye-catching course.

“I typically don't like road races, but this one is very pretty,” Hughes said. “It's very shady, a lot of downhill, great atmosphere, lots of water stations, lots of people with their hoses, so it's an encouraging race. It's just a very well organized, very well-run race and we're lucky to have it.”