Yesterday was the first Running WITH the Santas in Tremont (not to be confused with the Running of the Santas events held in a dozen or so US cities and one in New Zealand). Different name, same idea. You start out with a two-hour pre-race “party”. Run a mile. Have a 6 hour after-race party. 9 different bars in the neighborhood paid to participate. And Lolly the Trolley was available to shuttle people around the neighborhood if they didn’t want to walk.
I signed up as soon as I heard about it. How could I possibly resist?
At 2 pm – ish, the start of the pre-party, we headed over to Tremont Tap House to pick up our race packets. We also picked up a Great Lakes Christmas Ale, which at $3 each was a pretty decent bargain.
Since this was the first time for this event, details were scarce prior to event day. In fact, the proprietor at Prosperity Social Club, who was lovely, was still wondering what she would get for her participation fee.
When we picked up our race packets, we were given a map with the participating pubs. Tremont Tap House was stop number 1 on the map. They had a little popup with specials for the day on it. Aside from the Christmas ale and Coors (really? Coors is special? $2.50 for a Coors is still $4 too much. Ick. Coors. By the way, the drink specials were an event decided thing. Listing Coors as a special is not Tremont Tap House’s fault), they had some special food items. I was so ready to come back after the race because one of the two food specials was….. wait….. POUTINE!!!!! What says drunken foot race in costumes better than poutine?
After the first beer of the day, we headed over to Lava Lounge (which was actually stop #3, we meant to go to #2 first, Lincoln Park Pub, but the map was a bit vague and we missed it). I have wanted to visit most of the participating places for some time. Tremont has a bad reputation for car theft and such, lack of parking, and residents annoyance with those of us suburbanites who come to spend our money in the trendy eateries that populate the neighborhood. To be fair, not all residents resent visitors, but it’s enough to dissuade me.
Anyway, the reason I really wanted to visit Lava Lounge is because they have some sort of arrangement with William Rupnik Gallery, a local art gallery. Although the William Rupnik Gallery is in downtown Cleveland, the parties after openings are at Lava Lounge. Honestly, it’s been about a year and a half or so since I last went to the William Rupnik Gallery and I had no idea that they moved from midtown (E40th) to downtown. That makes the after parties on the near west side a bit more understandable.
While Lava Lounge is stunning in the pictures for the William Rupnik Gallery e-mails, it doesn’t quite live up to that in real life. Which isn’t to say that it’s without it’s charms. The place is cute inside. The other patron in the bar was a local. He assured us that this was a great place to catch a meal, and that he tried to get there once a month for that purpose. I was a bit disappointed that the bartender really had no interest in being behind the bar. He spent all his time gossiping with someone in the kitchen. His indifference guaranteed that we wouldn’t be returning after the race, and probably won’t be stopping by the next time I get to go to a William Rupnik Gallery exhibition.
As it was nearing 3:30, and the race started at 4, we decided to head on back towards the Tremont Tap House. On the way we caught stop #2, Lincoln Park Pub. It was packed. Above the bar was a row of old fashioned CRT tvs. Even before the prevalence of flat-screen tvs, I would have found this exact setup odd. I like good odd. This is good odd. Compared to the majority of the places in Tremont, this place is huge and airy. Most of the places are oddly shaped cramped into lots that are the thinnest of thin. The bartender was friendly and attentive and the shot was shot-y? I will definitely go back here.
The race itself was the longest mile I’d ever run. First, those may be the most uneven streets I’ve ever come across. Second, as much as one would think otherwise, a 2 shot 2 beer race hydration plan is not the best for performance.
The costumes were the best. I talked to a lady that had run the Reindeer Run in Lakewood the week before. I recognized her awesome red and green tutu. I didn’t see him either time, darn it, but a guy ran dressed as Ralphie in the bunny suit for both the Running with the Santas and the Reindeer Run. I NEED to talk to that guy. I want a picture with him. I did get my picture with a guy who had the best Santa suit ever. He told us that is had been his grandfather’s suit and it was 50 years old. It was awesome. He beat me.
The grinch was there, representing. Look:
There were several people “running” with beers. It was great fun. I have a picture with a lady who made her own Mrs. Claus suit with red felt, a white boa, and a glue gun. She was adorable. I talked to her before the race and ran into her at Prosperity Social Club at the end.
Red Bull had reps handing out, what else, Red Bull about halfway through the race. I wish it had been diet 😦 Oh well, regardless, that can is going to have to settle for a few days before I even attempt to open it.
The race ended in front of The South Side, location #9. Since so many people were there, we decided to go to one of the other participating places. #8 was Fat Cats, owned by the same chef that owns Lava Lounge. This place was really pricey and not at all the type of place I wanted to be in dressed as I was. We left before ordering anything.
We skipped location #7 altogether, which was 806 Martini and Wine Bar. That seems like a place to check out for a fancy date, but not in fur trimmed tights under running shorts.
We stopped in at the Treehouse, location #6, which I have been dying to try. Unfortunately it was understaffed. We sat for at least 5 minutes without any hint that someone might make their way over to take our orders (or give us a menu). The table next to us had been there when we arrived. Said they had been there about ten minutes. The only drinks on their table were the water bottles available at the end of the race. So we walked out of here too. It is so nice inside, I want to go back even though I got NO service.
Location #5 was The Flying Monkey Pub. We stopped in and had a beer here. Oddly, they served no food of any sort. Even odder, go to the website, they list Wednesday night as taco night. How do you have taco night with no food? Do they have food only on Wednesday. Dammit! I wish I had seen that before I was told they didn’t have food, I would’ve had so many questions for the bartender. It’s a nice place to catch a drink anyway.
By this time I was getting hungry and I needed to leave, had a parental commitment. So we decided to go back to the Tremont Tap House for that poutine.
A funny thing happened at the tap house. While I was in the bathroom, my husband sat down at the bar to order food and drinks. When I emerged from the bathroom, my husband was standing outside the bathroom door and quickly escorted me outside. Apparently someone at the Tap House was unhappy with the outcome of their involvement with the Running with the Santas because, as my husband sat down at the bar, the specials list was ripped from his hand by an angry bartender exclaiming that they were done “with this shit”. Even though it was only 5 pm, and the specials were supposed to be 4-10 pm. My husband inquired whether we may pay full price for the specials items and was told no! Seriously, one hour into the specials, the Tap House was pulling participation in the rudest way possible. Way to promote goodwill. – That bartender wins my douchebag of the day award for being the sole rude person, at an event that had the potential to create many, many rude people. He didn’t even have the excuse of excessive alcohol consumption. He was a sober douchebag! That’s the worst kind.
So we went back to Prosperity Social Club where we had an Oyster Po Boy and an order of Prosperity Planks. And another round of beers. And water. Lots of lovely, clear, non-alcoholic water. My liver and kidneys thanked me for that. The service was good, except at the end when I needed to cash out. The food was excellent. I will go back. In fact, after spending the better part of my afternoon here, I am ready to go back to most of these places, except, obviously, the Tremont Tap House. Because I have finite amounts of discretionary spending but tons of way better places to spend it on than at a place with a worker that flipping out of line.
I hope that this does become a yearly event. Now that some of the glitches have been worked out, it can only get better. Good job Hermes and good job Tremont!