Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Tchoupitoulas Barathon: The 2014 Recap

6 Miles. 6 Bars. 6 Beers. Simple enough, right? That's the premise behind the annual Tchoupitoulas Barathon, which takes participants throughout Uptown New Orleans one bar (and beer) at a time. This past Friday evening, nearly a thousand New Orleanians gathered to take on the challenge, and while I thought it sounded like an easy undertaking, I was proven horribly wrong.

The starting line for the Tchoupitoulas Barathon is outside LeBon Temps Roule Bar on Magazine Street. The line consists of coolers full of canned beer, and participants swarming the street with pre-race libations. Runners waited to receive their first allotted beer, which was handed out about 10 minutes prior to race time. Announcements leading up to the 6:05 start informed us that we would be drinking Miller High Life the entire evening, and three stops would have draft and three stops would have cans. As someone who doesn't drink beer 90% of the time, I quickly realized it was going to be a long night.

The Main Event
Right before the race started, participants were told to crack open their first can of beer and consume it before moving on to the next location. I did the same as many of my fellow runners, and casually sipped on the can as we walked down Camp Street to the next stop on the course. Reginelli's Pizzeria looked like a block party when we strolled up, with a table full of canned beer available to participants. The group I was with grabbed our second beer and decided to push through to the next location.

TJ Quills, the second stop on our tour, was the most outlying destination with more than a mile separating the bars in each direction. During this stretch is where I started to feel ill. Running while imbibing didn't work for me, and I started searching for the closest place possible to cure my discomfort. Fortunately, water was available at each bar, and heavy consumption of H2O helped soothe my stomach. I did stop drinking beer after the second stop though, which I thought was a great decision.

The same scene awaited me at every stop along the route. Patois, Dos Jefes, and Grit's Bar each had a party outside, with Miller High Life flowing from taps. Barathon participants congregated along side-streets without much haste to move on to the next location. I, on the other hand, was ready to get to the end so that I could consume a beer without fear of a messy pit-stop.

The final bar was about 4 blocks from the ill-defined finish line. After grabbing my finisher koozie, I promptly stuffed it with a can of Miller High Life before walking back to Grit's. It was interesting to be in that bar so early in the evening, but the party for Barathon participants had just gotten started. I stuck around with several friends for a couple hours, but the lack of dinner and the awareness of having a race the next morning kept me from trying to keep up with the others. I was home before 10pm, happy to be able to say that I had finally attempted the Tchoupitoulas Barathon, and had failed miserably.

Room For Improvement
I struggled with the concept of even doing a "race recap" for the Tchoupitoulas Barathon, as it's just barely a race. There are those participants who take the chugging and running seriously, but the vast majority are there for a social atmosphere and fun night. I can assure you that if you participate expecting the latter, you won't be let down. Just be prepared for a lot of Miller High Life, and a solid run on a muggy New Orleans evening.

Final Thoughts
Will I do the Tchoupitoulas Barathon again? Yes, I'll probably sign up in a future year. However, it'll require several months for me to forget those middle miles where I took the race seriously. I don't know what training is required to make someone successful at drinking 6 beers over 6 miles, but it isn't for someone with a weak stomach. This is one event where proper pacing is required.

For more photos from the 2014 Tchoupitoulas Barathon, check out the photo gallery below or LIKE the NOLArunner Facebook page HERE!

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