Laz, being Laz, just didn’t run 10Ks. He did them in style. When he lived in L.A.’s South Bay Beach Cities, he was somewhat of an institution at Redondo Beach’s annual Super Bowl 10K. He would get a group and do some type of theme.
One year, Laz and Co., were the “Channel 10 News team” that went around with a video camera and made a hilarious “news” report. The “reporter,” a David Hasselhoff look-alike named Jon Higgins, even donned a suit coat and tie.
Another year, Laz constructed a cardboard Chrysler as big as a whale and played the song “Love Shack” for the entire 6.2 miles.
Unfortunately – or perhaps not – the group had dispersed by the time of my first run. But I still had Laz. Initially, I was a bit intimidated when Laz told me that, with nearly 10,000 runners, the Redondo Beach Super Bowl event was the second-largest 10K on the West Coast. So I trained hard so as not to embarrass myself.
The first part of the run was a breeze, but when we reached Riviera Village just past the 3-mile mark, Laz went straight when the others turned. He had pulled off the course.
“Hey, where are you going?,” I asked.
“To Hennessey’s!,” he exclaimed.
Now if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s to trust those who know more about something than me. Even if I initially question the move or the motive, I know in the end I’ll come to appreciate it.
When we walked into Hennessey’s, I was shocked. The place was packed.
We had to elbow our way to the bar. Everyone in there was also in the race. We had a couple of pints and then ran to the finish line. And the beer garden. I was smiling the entire time. Once again, I said, Laz knows best.
Laz has since moved to another state, but since his departure, I’ve kept the Hennessey’s tradition alive. One year, I rolled in and a group of guys in kilts were doing shots. Shots! Later, I saw them in the beer garden and asked how they managed to run three more miles after all those shots. “Easy,” one replied. “We waited for the race to end and took a cab to the beer garden.”
A few times when I organized my own groups – a couple of times we ran with grass skirts and buckets on our heads as a nod to our sponsor Sharkeez – others were initially a bit surprised at the Hennessey’s stop. But I had to honor Laz and the tradition.
Once, while running alone, I was struggling at the start. I was in great shape but it was a steady downpour and I simply could not get my energy. I stopped in Hennessey’s and pretty much decided I was going to stay there and keep drinking until I passed out; perhaps I would make it until the Super Bowl kickoff. But halfway through my second pint it stopped raining, so I finished up and headed out the door. Suddenly, I was alive and picked up my pace.
I was passing people I had seen before going into Hennessey’s and when I reached the end, I had to do a double-take on my time. I had finished in 58 minutes. That included the time it took to drink two pints at Hennessey’s!
Today, I’m about the only one that continues the Hennessey’s tradition but I can tell you that come this year’s Super Bowl 10K on Feb. 7, I’ll be there again, having a pint, or perhaps two, before running the final three miles.
Straight to the Michelob Ultra beer garden.