ESPN Bottomline 2.0

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Moston Barathon: Run for Research, Drink for Your Liver

The Fintz implores to drink for your liver. Really. It is good for you.

Andy Fintzel and company are not just drinking for their livers, they are running for them. Fintzel is a member of the Run for Research team that runs the Boston Marathon every year to help benefit the American Liver Foundation.

With the current economic hardships it is hard for charity organizations to raise money these days. So, Fintzel and his two associates, Scott Rumrill and Sheri Olivet, decided to resurrect an old template that a friend, Dori Miller, had started years ago to raise money for the event.

It is a pub-crawl, appropriately named, the Moston Barathon.

“We are drinkers with a running problem,” Fintzel said. It is a popular saying among many of the Run for Research participants.

Fintzel knew Miller because she is a swimmer and an avid runner. The Moston Barathon originated when Miller’s friends heard that she was running the marathon and vowed to buy her a beer at every bar on the route. Miller, now 38 and working as a web designer, picked up the idea and ran with it.

“A friend and I came up with the idea,” Miller said. “We joked about it and thought ‘maybe we can turn this in to some type of fundraising thing.'”

Miller and her friends ran the Barathon for five years, from 2000-2005 and made about $5,000 over that period for the American Liver Foundation’s Run for Research. She stopped running marathons shortly after that and has since become a long distance swimmer. In this capacity she has become quite accomplished as evidenced when she swam the English Channel last August.

The end of Miller’s running career meant the end of the Moston Barathon. Fintzel saw an opportunity to resurrect it this year when he remembered how much fun runners and their friends had during the extravaganza.

“I kind of willed it to them since I am no longer running marathons,” Miller said. “It was always a fun event. People would start asking in January about when it would start. A friend of mine met his girlfriend at Cornwall’s one year. They are now married with a kid.”

Fintzel, a graphic designer, along with Rumrill and Olivet took up the mantel of the Barathon and recreated it. Most pub-crawls are tedious affairs with little to no purpose. They are characterized with overfilled bars and excessively drunk young professionals who cause a general ruckus and mayham ensues.

The Moston Barathon steers clear of these problems, mostly because of the type of people that attend the event. People who run marathons do not tend to be crazy drunks. The fee to enter the Barathon is $15 and features scorecards with various feats that the crawlers can complete for points and rewards. The Challenges range from “ordering the special drink” at one of the pub destinations to “beating Scottie in a game of speed Connect Four” at Cornwall’s Irish Pub in Kenmore Square. Participants wear race style bib numbers and are encouraged to recruit followers along the crawl.

“It is different than your normal pub crawl,” Fintzel said. “We give it a little more ‘umph.’ It is like pub golf. We are the most creative pub crawl in the city, people have told me.”

There are four legs to the Barathon, one pub-crawl a month for the four months leading up the actual marathon. They started in February in January in Framingham then moved to Newton for the second leg. The fourth and final leg was April 4th in and around Copley Square on Boylton street, right on the finish line of the marathon. This reporter caught up with them on the third leg, down Beacon Street, on March 7th.

The four bars on leg three, in order of attendance, were O’Leary’s Irish Pub, An Tua Nua, Audubon Circle with the final kick coming at Cornwall's.

The managers of these establishments were a little bemused with the idea of a group of runners drinking to benefit the American Liver Foundation, but, in comparison to other unruly pub crawls they see on a regular basis, were glad to have the group for the night.

“It is quite funny, quite comical actually,” Pauline Halbert, general manager of An Tua Nua said. “There is no better research. They have a good thing going. Charities have to hit close to home to be successful.”

At Audubon Circle, a finer establishment than most of the true pubs on the crawl, they have a policy against pub-crawls because they tend to get out of hand and disturb dinner guests. When Jay Bellao, general manager of Audobon, was approached by Fintzel and company, they made it hard for him to say no.

“They reached out to me and were pretty adamant,” Bellao said. “It is a pub crawl for all the right reasons, as opposed to all the wrong. I think it is a cool little niche they got going, people remember it. They are responsible people.”

Through all the fun and games, the pub-crawlers do not lose sight of what the purpose of the Barathon. After leg three they had raised “a little more than” $1,000. Their total after all four legs, was around $1,500, which was matched by the Boston Consulting Group, where Olivet works as an administrative assistant.

Overall, Run for Research, which has 60-80 runners on a given year, has raised $892.,253.12 for the American Liver Foundation (as of 1:00 p.m. Sunday 4/19), short of their $1.25 million goal, according to the ALF website. With the marathon tomorrow, it appears they will be close to that goal.

Fintzel, who will run his sixth marathon, is just happy to be drinking for a cause that he believes in.

“I had a bad scare with hepatitis many years ago and it made me conscious of going out there and doing the right thing,” he said.

Along with Fintzel, Rumrill, an information security consultant, and Olivet are still learning how to throw such an extensive party. They work hard to balance the responsibilities of managing a fundraiser as well as a fun and interesting night on the town, not to mention training for the actual marathon.
“It is learning process,” Fintzel said. “You make mistakes and learn from it and get better going forward.”

The goal is to make everything better next year, from the prizes, which are donated by the establishments along the route, to the amount of money raised. Overall, he vowed to “spruce it up.”

This year Fintzel is not expecting any to eclipse his personal best marathon of 4:02. He has been battling a cold all week and said he will be “taking it easy” and just hopes to finish between 4:30 and 5:00.

For those of us more inclined to Barathons than Marathons, we can only marvel at the exploit.

At Cornwall’s at the end of the night Fintzel reflected on the night and its purpose and raised pint of beer to his lips and smiled.

He was drinking for his liver. Tomorrow he will run for it.

And for yours.

Tomorrow Sports Chutney will be all over the 113th running of the Boston Marathon, stationed right in the party alley on Beacon Street around Mile 25 (Near An Tua Nua, Audubon and O'Leary's, incidentally). Look for live Qik streams, photos, twitters, blog posts and perhaps a video project or two. Stay tuned for some of the more interesting coverage you will find anywhere on the day.

We will be following Andrew Fintzel (bib number 21696) and Scott Rumrill (21811) and Sheri Olivet (21781) via the Athletes Alert Chip and updating via Twitter at Dan_Rowinski.

As you enjoy the revelry on one of the best days in Boston, make sure to actually watch the race and cheer for the Run for Research runners. They  wear bright orange caps and t-shirts (along with the white t-shirt pictured in the story above).

Pictures Captions (From Top to Bottom):

1-The Moston Barathon poster with all stops along the route.
2- Andrew Fintzel enjoying himself at Cornwall's
3- Scott Rumrill takes on all comers in Speed Connect Four at Cornwall's
4- Organizers And Friends: From left to right - Mara Lounsbury, Jake Mather, Scott Rumrill, Sheri Olivet
5-6- The American Liver Foundation Run for Research T-Shirt back (left) and front (right).

No Sports Chutney reporters were seriously hurt in the reporting of the third leg of the Moston Barathon. 

1 comment:

  1. Great article Dan. Just to let you know, the Run for Research has now raised over $902K for the American Liver Foundation, and we will continue to raise money through and beyond the marathon (I still have donation checks coming in). As we compare the fundraising to previous years, it looks like we will come close to the $1.25 million team goal, if not surpass it.