Sunday, January 6, 2013

6th annual Human Powered Brewery Tour 2013: The Next Generation

6th Annual Human Powered Brewery Tour for ALS

Saturday, February 16th, 2012.  10:00 am.

Fort Collins... the final frontier....
These are the voyages of the Human Powered Brewery Tour.
Our five, er, Six year mission: 
To explore strange new breweries, 
(without the aid of motorized transportation).
To stamp out ALS once and for all.  
To boldly go where no man has gone before.

The tour of the constellation of Fort Collins breweries is as follows:
(Times estimated)
a.       New Belgium Brewery. 10:00 am.  
b.      Fort Collins Brewery.  10:45 am (ish). 
c.       Funkwerks Brewery.  11:30 am.
d.      Odell Brewing Company.  12:15 am.
e.       Pateros Creek Brewing Co.  1:03 pm.
f.        Equinox Brewing.  2:00 pm

Raffle prizes along the way, including race entries, and other cool stuff!

Yes, everyone starts at New Belgium at 10:00 am.  

Here are some pictures from previous years:

2008, First, uh, annual!

2009, 2nd annual!

2010, 3rd annual!

2011, 4th annual!

2012, 5th annual!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

2nd annual Runners Without Borders, 10/28

2nd annual Runners Without Borders

It's back!

Please join me for the 2nd annual Runners Without Borders!

Let's do a recap for those who may have forgotten:

Last year about this time I said to myself, "Self, how's about we raise some money for Doctors Without Borders?  Gee, that'd be swell, huh!"

Then this happened:  RWB.

And now it's going to happen again!  With a few minor changes to the format, because, you know, I like to mess with success.

Let's start with the basics.

It all goes down on SUNDAY, OCTOBER 28th, 8:00 am - 4:00 pm

Get yourself to Lory State Park on Sunday, October 28th.  You don't have to be there for the whole day.

Start at the "Eltuck" picnic area.  See map here:  Lory map

Run to one of the very lightly defended "borders" between Lory State Park and Horsetooth Mountain Park.  You choose the route.  There are two border crossings as you know.  Valley and Mill Creek, we'll call them.

Pick up a poker chip at the border crossing, there will be a bag of them at each crossing.

Return to Eltuck with your poker chip.  This represents a "lap".  One poker chip per person per lap, people.

Repeat.  Or don't.  (yes do...)

But wait, there's more!  So much more...

The Pledges


Just like last year, I'm donating one dollar per "lap" per person to Doctors Without Borders.  Up to $250.  Last year we combined for 168 laps.  I know we can get to 250 this year.  Don't let me down, people.


Express yourself, people!  Please show up and get one or more of those poker chips and bring them safely back to Eltuck.  It's worth money to DWB!  And I encourage you to pledge as well.  You can match my pledge.  You can pledge for yourself.  You can get your friends and family to sponsor your laps.  You can make up some insanely complicated formula (Laura B, I'm pointing at you; well I'm pointing in the general direction of the Vet Hospital right now.  Well I'm typing, actually, but you get the visual)

What else is different?

New starting point:

This year I've rented out the Eltuck picnic area in Lory, it's about halfway between the Lory st park entrance and the Arthurs Trailhead (our base of operations last year).  I wanted more space and more amenities, picnic tables and the like.

No fixed route:

That's right!  I continue to turn the concept of an organized run on it's head.  Just get to the border.  Or the other border.  How you do it is up to you.  Clearly there are speedy and slower ways to get to the borders, but part of the fun should be to explore the trails.  Which is why I'm dispersing a as-yet-to-be-determined number of...

Magic Tokens!

Magic tokens will be placed in secret locations along the trails of Lory state park.  Find one on your lap, and bring it back for a fabulous prize.  One magic token per person, please.  What prizes?    TBD.  How many tokens?  TBD.  Wha-?  Quit asking so many questions.  Friggin MAGIC TOKENS, people!  Go find them!

Still with me?  Good.

Here's what I need from you.


Please let me know if you're planning on showing up.  I'll add you to my online RSVP list.  There is no charge to participate, other then the Lory State Park fee ($7 per car, so carpool).

Wait, when is it again?

Sunday, October 28th, anytime from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.  Get there early if you want to find a (friggin) magic token though.


You don't have to pledge but of course I encourage it.  Last year we raised over $4,000 for DWB.  Yeah that's right.  I think we can top that this year.  Give me some sugar, people.

For point of reference, here are last year's participants and pledges:
2011 Participants:

2011 Pledges:

ok that's it for now.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


5th Annual Human Powered Brewery Tour for ALS

Saturday, February 4th, 2012.  10:00 am.

On July 27th of this year, the finest, most handsome competitors from around the world will gather in swinging, rioting London for the Games of the XXX Olympiad!  Oh that we could be there, to hurl a silvery spear into the steamy yob-filled night, to toss aloft the gossamer weight of a gleaming white plastic ball, to swim, swim synchronously and true in costumes scant, yet somehow tasteful.  I fear I’m mixing up synchronized swimming and ice dancing.  Maybe they should be mixed up.  No matter, off subject as usual. 

But alas we are no Olympians, merely mortals who like to compete.  So compete we shall, in the Fort Collins Human Powered Brewery Tour Heptathlon!  In honor of this being an Olympic year we will transform our annual brewery tour into a quasi-competition and celebration of international costume and bad accents.   

Here, then, are the rules:

1)      Choose a country and align yourself with that county.  Lean their dress, their customs, their favorite sport, their favorite beer, their favorite accent.  Come prepared, come dressed up.  Medals will be awarded to the three best representatives.  More than one person can be part of the same country.  Then you will be a team!  Organize yourselves accordingly.  My inclination is to represent Ghana of course!

2)      Give generously to the ALS Association.   Every year we do this as a fund-raiser for ALS and this year, particularly this year, is no exception.  5 years ago Celeste lost her cousin Annie to ALS.  Last fall she lost her cousin Bob to the same disease.  We honor their spirit and memories by hosting the brewery tour and raising money for the ALS association.  We raised over $400 last year, and we want to raise over $1,000 this year.  Medals to the top three fund-raising countries.  That’s a good reason to get together and join a team!!

3)      Visit all 7 old town Fort Collins breweries by human powered means only.  This means anything not motorized!  Bike, run, walk, skate, roller-blade, big wheel, pogo stick, kayak, you get the idea.  You will cover about 4 or 5 miles if you hit all 7 breweries so crawling or leap-frogging is not totally encouraged.  Obtain a coaster or a photo of yourself from each brewery and bring your coasters/camera to the Trail Head Tavern for verification.  Sampling of beers at each brewery is technically optional, but, you know, whatever.  Participants who visit all 7 breweries will be eligible to medal in the FCHPBTH (Fort Collins Human Powered Brewery Tour Heptathlon).  It is not a speed competition.  It’s a style competition.  A, dare I say, competition de panache.  I’ll know it when I see it.  You will be competing in the following events at each brewery. 

4)      The 7 breweries and competitions, you ask?  IN THIS ORDER:

a.       New Belgium Brewery. 10:00 am.  Competitions:  Frivolity, Punctuality.
b.      Fort Collins Brewery.  10:45 am (ish).  Competition:  Generosity. 
c.       Funkwerks Brewery.  11:30 am.  Competition:  Panache.
d.      Odell Brewing Company.  12:15 am.  Competition:  Levity.
e.       Coopersmiths Brewpub.  1:00 pm.  Competition:  Brevity.
f.        Pateros Creek Brewing Co.  1:03 pm.  Competition:  Orienteering.
g.       Equinox Brewing.  2:00 pm.  Competition: A certain daring-do, a certain je ne sais quoi.

Yes, everyone starts at New Belgium at 10:00 am.  We have a lot of stops on this year’s tour, so get cracking (remember on the first year, when there was only one brewery in town?  Me neither.).  Everyone meet at the Trail Head Tavern after it is all over for awards.  Believe me, they’re the only place that will accept us by then.

Oh and, special prizes for legacy members, you know who you are!  The prizes will be even more special than last year!

Here are some pictures from previous years:
2008, First, uh, annual!

 2009, 2nd annual!

2010, 3rd annual!

2011, 4th annual!

Friday, October 28, 2011


One came out with a new famine video today, thought I'd promote it with a quick post:

Quick comment on the video; why does the cool edgy guitar music represent famine, death and destruction, and the piano music represent redemption, peace, and hope?  So typical.  I'd like to see that reversed, because, you now, pianos are inherently evil, right?  j/k.  One is a funny sort of organization, I don't think they take donations directly, but they act as a sort of message-driven outreach voice for African development issues. They're sort of a "celebrity" organization, with Bono from U2 being their most visible supporter, and they spend a lot of time making slick and flashy videos and what not.  This can be a little off-putting for some but I think it's fine to use a little star power to get your message across, and I like what they are trying to accomplish.  Here is One's mission statement from their web site:

"ONE is a grassroots advocacy and campaigning organization that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa, by raising public awareness and pressuring political leaders to support smart and effective policies and programs that are saving lives, helping to put kids in school and improving futures. Cofounded by Bono and other campaigners, ONE is nonpartisan and works closely with African activists and policy makers."

That sounds fine.  So One isn't really on the front lines administering aid.  Rather, One works with and supports several dozen aid organizations, including notably (RED), Oxafam, Bill & Meninda Gates Foundation,, and CARE, US Doctors For Africa, and several dozen others.  Ideally this allows One to focus on getting the message out to people like me, and to politicians, and allows the aid organizations to focus on solving the problems on the ground.  Of course this can also cause problems, particularly when and if One's messages don't align with their partner's aims and goals.  But One tends to keep things pretty generic and simple, by design likely, so there's probably less of a chance of that happening.

The full list of One's aid partners is impressive and comprehensive, indeed.  But notably absent from One's list?  Doctors Without Borders, baby!  Why?  I doubt there is any serious schism between One and DWB, I rather suspect it is because DWB strives very hard to maintain absolute neutrality, and therefore can not align themselves with any umbrella organization.  Respect.  But a quick glance at all of the One partner organizations reveals many worthy aid organizations who are trying to do the right thing. 

Just for Bono:

"One life, but we're not the same, we get to carry each other, carry each other, One"
-- One, U2

Johnny got it right:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What's Going On?

The latest from Somalia:

So what's going on in Somalia, you ask?  Ahh, you don't want to know.  There's trouble over in the horn of Africa, some of it involving our dear Doctors Without Borders.  As you probably know, we got together and raised over $4,000 for DWB at the Runners Without Borders event last weekend.  I requested that the money go to Somalia if possible (DWB does critical work all over the world so I'm sure it could be put to good use in many places, but Somalia seems to need assistance the most right now).  One of the super-critical and time-sensitive tasks DWB is trying to accomplish in Somalia right now is a massive measles vaccination campaign for children.  Yup, that measles shot we all got as babies in the USA, well, they don't get those shots over in Somalia.  And measles is actually a nasty and virulent little disease with a very high fatality rate among small children, particularly children who are already malnourished.

So DWB took it upon themselves to try to vaccinate as many high-risk children as they could, focusing efforts on the capital, Mogadishu.  But last week heavy fighting erupted (side note, does "heavy fighting" ever do anything besides "erupt"?) in Mogadishu, forcing the DWB doctors to abandon the campaign for the time being.  Read DWB's press release here: Somalia: Vaccination campaign Suspended Due to Fighting in Daynile.

Some thoughts from the press release; Daynile is on the outskirts of Mogadishu, and I'm assuming this is where a lot of the refugees are coming from the famine-striken areas.  So it's an important base of operations for DWB, since this is likely as close as they can get to the people that are the worst off.  Although they have suspended the measles program, they are still at the hospital, providing medical assistance and nutritional assistance as much as they can.  I take two things from this.  One, the DWB doctors are total bad-asses and I am more proud than ever to support them, and you should be too.  Two, the Somalians really need to put down their guns, even for just a little while, so these doctors can save the lives of their children.  Priorities, people.  It's all very irritating. 

The other bit of news from DWB in Somalia is the news of a kidnapping of two DWB staff members from a refugee camp in Dabaab, Kanya, which is serving as a Somalian refugee camp.  This happened on October 13th, and as of yet I believe the two staffers are still being held by their kidnappers.  You can read this article here:
Kenya: Two MSF Staff Abducted in Kenya (Updated).  Dangerous indeed.  You can read the article, but the effect of the kidnapping is that DWB has suspended much of their operations in the Kenyan refugee camps until they can get the situation resolved.  Maybe the refugee camps need more protection, but DWB tries very hard to distance themselves from the conflicts that cause these refugee crises, and not take sides, but as you can see it's difficult not to get into trouble.  Trouble has a way of finding you, I suspect, in places such as these.

What is also interesting to note is that DWB does not want this kidnapping to be publicized, as publicity is not helping their efforts to get the staffers returned.  So, uh, I'm not totally sure I should be writing about this, but the story went out on much larger news organizations already, so it's probably ok that I'm bringing it to your attention today, since I expect about, you know, 23 people to read this.

What's my point besides being full of rather depressing news today?  I wanted to give you all a greater appreciation of the dangers that the men and women of DWB face in trying to help people in the worst places in the world.  Major props to them.  Hopefully the money we raised last week will do some good there, hopefully they can get back to working at full-capacity soon. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Runners Without Borders: Recap

Where do I start?  The stats?  The donations?  The idea?  The need?  How about the people!  At some point during the day Saturday it dawned on me with amazement that whatever the motivation, 97 other people came out to run and do something good.  I knew my wife would be there, she helped come up with this plan, and she was the most supportive of my idea, and she was out there running over 30 miles herself on the trails, earning money and generally going way above and beyond.  I knew my crazy trail running friends would be there, heck they would have been there anyway, I just gave them a wonderful excuse to do something they wanted to do anyway!  And they came out in force.  Heck, a few of them just happened to stop by on their regular run and got involved on the spur of the moment.  But right away at 8:00 am when the first runners showed up to run 5 and 7 mile trail loops through Lory State Park and Horsetooth Mountain Park for Doctors Without Borders I realized something cool was happening: people whom I didn't even know decided to show up and run.  39 out of 96 by my rough count, 39 people who didn't know me, but heard about the event somehow or through someone, and wanted to participate, wanted to run, wanted to do something good.  It was one of those days where I felt that people generally want to do something good; it's just sometimes they need a reason, a little push out the door.  I was so happy and proud to help provide that reason, even if just for a day.

And what a day it turned out to be!  Apparently it is supposed to snow here on Wednesday, so we may have enjoyed the last beautiful weekend for a while.  A thin veneer of clouds kept the sun a bay just enough to keep the temperatures warm but not baking hot.  There was just a whisper of wind in the valley, and the cottonwoods along the creeks were in full color.  Up in the trees the smell of pine filled the air, as the evergreens seemed to stretch their limbs one last time in the warm sun before donning their white winter cloaks for another season.

I'm not going to lie, if you missed this event, you missed out on one special day.  It was a sustaining sort of day, not only realizing that people want to do something good, but also being reminded that what we do matters, what we do can make a difference.  And it doesn't really take much to make a difference, not when you have your friends out there helping you out.  But don't worry, I think we're going to do this again next year, so you'll have another chance to run without borders.

98 people (including myself) came and ran at least 1 loop, with many running more than one loop.  A special mention to 6 runners who ran at least 4 loops:  Celeste and Kristel each ran 4 loops, Cat, Mindy and Pete each ran 5 loops, and Shannon ran 7 loops!  All told the 98 participants ran a total of 168 loops.  We had 50 women and 48 men participate.  I was able to sneak out and run 1 loop myself, and enjoyed sharing my loop with Celeste.  Also we had 7 dogs run a total of 11 loops!

And we raised a lot of money.  $3986.78 at this point, with apparently a few more pledges yet to come.  We had 82 people pledge money, at least a dozen of which were not even at the event, and they were some of our biggest contributors!  A heartfelt thanks to all of you who contributed, and special thanks to those of you who believed in my vision enough to pledge even though you were not able to participate.  Anyway I'll go ahead and call it $4,000 raised for Doctors Without Borders, and it looks like the total will exceed that amount.  And that entire amount is going to be matched by Audrey Steele Burnand, so basically what I'm saying is that we were responsible for sending $8,000 to Doctors Without Borders on Saturday.

Even though it was only about two months ago, it seems like a long time ago when I thought I should "do something for Somalia" and thought about going on line and sending them a couple hundred bucks.  It could have stopped there, and that would have been great, but I felt so strongly about what I was doing that I knew I had to try to do more.  I drew inspiration from my wife and my mom and my friends, who help keep my moral compass pointing North, so to speak.  I drew courage from the unwavering support of my best friends, who stepped up with pledges right away, and were always there with encouraging words, and there to assist me in planning and implementing the event.  I literally could not have done this without you all -- I certainly could not have ran 168 loops on my own! -- so thanks again.  I think this was a pretty neat idea and I'm happy to see so many people participate.  And yes, I think we'll crank it up again next year, so stay tuned! 




Thursday, October 20, 2011


I have hesitated posting this, because the subject is unpleasant for me to write about, much less for you to read about.  But in the end I feel that it is important to write a little bit about why I have put so much effort into the upcoming Runners Without Borders event scheduled for this Saturday.  I am so very grateful for the tremendous support that everyone has provided up to this point, and I know the event will be a fun, joyous occasion for all, and that is the intent of this fund-raising exercise.  And maybe it is best in the end to simply focus on that; the camaraderie, the joie de vivre of the occasion.  But some sober reflection is in order as well, for the reason we celebrate life with so much passion is partly because we know that is it precious, and that we are lucky to enjoy it as a precious thing.

If you don't want to get into the heavy stuff today, then stop right here.  I will think nothing less of you.  Otherwise, brave reader, read on.

I don't want to get too over the top with the pulling of heartstrings and such, because I find that approach manipulative and ultimately condescending.  But I do want to express how I feel about famine and why the work that Doctors Without Borders (DWB) does is so important.  Famine is a horrible thing.  And in this day and age famine is a man-made thing, and should be completely preventable.  Say what you will about drought, overpopulation and overgrazing, and climate change and water issues.  Those are all contributors to conditions that can cause a famine.  And many if not all of those are man-made conditions.  But ultimately there is enough food to feed everyone.  Famine is inexcusable.  So why does it happen?  Sometimes we just can't get food to the people who need it.  And sometimes people are actually prevented from getting the food they need.  Sometimes intentionally.

Голодомор is a word I hope you will never see again after today.  I'm not even going to link that word to a web site, for I don't want to encourage you to look too closely into the hollow eyes of famine.  I'm not even going to tell you how to pronounce that word.  It is a sacred, terrible word.  Голодомор means "Killing by Hunger", and it is the word for a devastating famine in the Ukraine that occurred about 80 years ago.  The truth will never be known, but is it estimated that somewhere between 2.4 million and 10 million people died of famine -- starvation and attendant disease -- in the Ukraine between 1932 and 1933.  Aside from the huge number of people who died, what I find striking is that the death estimates vary so widely.  I presume this is because entire towns starved to death and were depopulated, and the town records were subsequently altered or destroyed by the Soviet regime, who were both the cause and the amplifiers of this famine.  In my opinion Голодомор represents Josef Stalin's worst crime against humanity, and that is saying something.  It was his Holocaust, with comparably grim statistics to boot.

When I read about this famine I shook my head and wondered why this was allowed to happen, as would anyone to comes to know about such horrible things.  The causes of this famine are still debated, but the prevailing thought is that the famine was caused largely due to the failures of the Soviet food collectivization programs of the 1930s.  Many also believe that the Ukrainians were intentionally starved by the Soviets.  Of course in 1932 in the USSR it was rather difficult to obtain credible information about what was happening, much less why it was happening.  But for whatever reason, whether because of malice or pride or something else, Stalin and the Soviets denied that the famine happened.  They wanted to keep the news of the famine quiet.  Голодомор was a man-made famine, entirely preventable, but ultimately preventable only by the Soviets.  And Голодомор isn't even the worst famine in history.  I use it as an example here to reinforce my statement that famine is ultimately a man-made problem, and requires a man-made solution, and also to illustrate the usefulness of unbiased and credible reporting of famines.

Why is this relevant and how does this compare with what is happening in Somalia right now?  In Somalia, a drought in the southern part of the country has created conditions that have led to a famine.  The drought alone would have caused hardships, but a civil war and a jihadist militia called Al-Shabaab have essentially amplified the drought into a famine.  Furthermore, Al-Shabaab is accused of preventing aid from reaching the most distressed areas, and is also accused of preventing people under their control from leaving the famine zone for the capital or fleeing to refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.  Even still, many thousands of desperate Somalis have been able to leave the most affected and closed-off areas, and are now able to receive aid from organizations such as DWB.  But many others are stuck in circumstances most dire, and even for those who have fled survival is no guarantee; only a possibility.

This famine in Somalia differs from the Ukrainian famine in one minor and two major aspects.  First the minor difference; in Somalia the famine appears to have been precipitated by a drought.  In the Ukraine it appears to have been precipitated by the Soviet policy of collectivization.  But both situations, combined with tyrannical and repressive governments, have resulted in famines.

The first major difference between the two famines is in terms of information and access, and our collective ability to react to the disaster.  In the Ukraine, foreign journalists were not permitted to access or report on the famine.  One reporter did in fact try to report on the famine but his reports were discredited by the Soviets and by Communist sympathizers and Soviet appeasers in the free world.  The reports became rumors and were ultimately ignored, with the result that the famine was allowed to continue uninhibited.

In 1932 Doctors Without Borders didn't exist.  Would DWB have been allowed to go to the Ukraine in 1932?  Sadly probably not, but it's difficult to speculate.  It is a different world now, a world still in crisis, but a world that now contains organizations like DWB that can fight against famine, or at least mitigate their effects.  DWB is on the ground in Somalia, reporting on what they see to a world that listens, because they are viewed as an independent organization with no political or religious agenda.  And of course DWB is actively administering aid and saving lives in this most dangerous country.  Ultimately DWB can't solve the problem on their own, but they can save lives and bring the issues to our collective attention.  They are helping the world realize that there is a problem that needs to be solved.  As much as the actual tangible aid helps, so too does the flow of information.  Clearly many Somalians would die if DWB wasn't administering vaccines and treating malnutrition right now.  And many more would die if no one outside of Somalia knew about this famine, a la the Ukraine in 1932.  The work that DWB is doing is both timely and important, and the world is a better place for it.

And the second major difference between the famine in the Ukraine and the famine in Somalia?  The famine in the Ukraine happened almost 80 years ago.  The famine in Somalia is happening right now.  That's a sobering yet galvanizing thought.  It is true that Somalians right now are in desperate straits and need help.  But it is also true that unlike 80 years ago, we have the ability to help.  And luckily and ironically enough, it is easy and even fun to help.  All we have to do is get together, run some trails, and raise some money.  Thankfully we don't have to look into the eyes of famine to help defeat it.  And even if we contribute just a little bit of money, heck, even if all we do is continue to raise awareness about the famine, we're doing something good.  It really doesn't take much.  Consider that a measles vaccine costs about $1.  That may be the difference in saving a life of a severely malnourished child who otherwise may lack the strength to overcome the disease.  What we do this weekend matters.  So run, laugh, and enjoy the day, and know that with every loop you complete you are doing something good.  The work that DWB does is so very important, and the support we give them makes a huge difference.  Thank you.