Margaret Dempsey was sipping hot chocolate at the airport when a woman approached her.
“Are you from Nebraska?” she asked.
The question surprised Dempsey, 26. “I was in Warsaw (Poland) of all places,” she said.
The woman, who Dempsey later learned lived in Gretna, Neb., had noticed her Beer and Bagel Run shirt. Both women had raced in the 7K a few weeks before.
“We probably stood right next to each other (at the race) and didn't even know it,” Dempsey said.
That's what keeps her coming back to Peak Performance's signature event: the camaraderie.
“You start to feel like these people are your friends,” she said.
Dempsey, of Omaha, is running the Beer and Bagel Run in Ashland, Neb. for the fourth time on Sunday.
Organizers hope to see 2,000 people at this year's 21st annual run. The off-road route is roughly four miles and loops through Quarry Oaks Golf Course. It's the event's third year at the site.
“This is just enough to make it challenging, yet fun,” said assistant race director John Fey. “And I think fun is the key word.”
Dempsey signed up for the race the first time in 2010 to celebrate a recent weight loss. She shed 70 pounds, dropping some after the race.
It was that fall morning four years ago that convinced Dempsey she didn't want to just be healthy – she wanted to be a runner.
She has run three half marathons since and hopes to run a full marathon some time next year.
“I feel like a true athlete now, and I feel like running propelled me into that,” she said. “I intend to be a runner forever.”
She added, “I owe it to the Beer and Bagel to come back every year. It's where it all started.”
The race, which is chip-timed, starts at 9 a.m. Unlimited beer, bagels and chili follow. It's included in the race fee.
Medals featuring Sasquatch will be awarded to the top five overall winners and top finishers in their age groups.
Sign up online for $45 through Oct. 31.
You can also register at Peak Performance, near 77th and Cass Streets, during packet pick-up on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 for $50. Lincoln runners can pick up their packets or register at the Hy-Vee at 5010 O Street in Lincoln.
For more information or to register, click here.
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