Since I'm new to southwest Minnesota, I've been making an effort to explore the area as much as I can. My goal is to embrace the community pride that is evident across the nine counties The Globe covers.
My curiosity took me to Jasper over the weekend for the Second Annual Quartzsiter 0.5K Beer and Donut Dash. That's right — point five. As in 1,800 feet. Plus beer or root beer and a donut? Um, yes. Count me in.
Put on by Reclaim Community, a local historical preservation non-profit, the "un-run" aimed to include underachievers in efforts to save the old Jasper school from demolition. Like in a traditional 5k for charity, participants got a T-shirt, a finisher's medal and a bumper sticker to brag about the accomplishment — only no running was required. In fact, as Reclaim Community President Elicia Kortus explained, running was actually prohibited.
When I first learned about the 0.5k, I said, "That is ridiculous in the best possible way. I have to do it." I was so full of mirth that I couldn't shut up about it, so I ended up recruiting The Globe's advertising manager, Roberta Fultz, along with a few of our friends, to do the "race" with me.
It was definitely worth the drive.
After the six of us checked in and got our registration materials, we went on a tour of the school building. I love old schools, for some reason. The smell, the architecture, the nostalgia — all of it. I loved looking around and hearing stories from some of the alumni who were in our tour group.
When we made it back to the starting line, everyone was still milling around, even though the clock was right up against 3 p.m.
We quickly learned the reason for the delay: the keg tap was broken. Obviously, you can't have a beer and donut dash without beer. (Although everyone in my party opted for root beer anyway.) Plus, it wouldn't really be a celebration of underachievement if it started on time, right?
Someone retrieved a new tap, beer flowed and we were off to the races, so to speak. Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" kicked off our leisurely mosey around the perimeter of the school.
As we rounded the second turn, a child was standing on the grass holding a sign that read, "SLOW DOWN!" Because the whole point was to put in as little effort as possible. No sweating allowed, see.
Coming up on the last stretch, a Reclaim Community board member shouted encouragement from a Gator, as if we were nearing the final leg of a serious race.
The event organizers really thought of every detail. It was perfect.
The Quartzsiter 0.5K Beer and Donut Dash was a perfect combination of charity, unity and delight. The creativity and lightheartedness of the "un-run" proved to me, once again, that exploring southwest Minnesota is a good idea. I will definitely continue to visit community festivals and events around the area.