Athletes seeking to push themselves — and have a great time — need look no further than the Boomerang Beer and Brat Fun Run 5K. For those not quite ready for the 5K, there is also a one-miler.  Hosted by the Special Operators Challenge, the event takes place on Jan. 30 at the Crown Coliseum. It’s not your standard road race, in fact, far from it, but Ivan Castro, the founder of Special Operators Challenge, and his crew, are working hard to make sure that it’s a fun day for everyone involved. The day’s plans include more than a road race, so bring a friend and plan to stay awhile. The course involves costume changes, eating (and drinking) on the run, a bratwurst eating contest and costume judging. 

This is the first year the event takes place at the Crown. Even though it has grown every year, Castro was looking to reach even more people.  “We did this two years in a row at the Carolina Horse Park and we decided to bring it home and move to Fayetteville so we can have all of Fort Bragg and Fayetteville, Spring Lake and Hope Mills join us. We want to include the students from Methodist University, Fayetteville State University and Fayetteville Technical Community College. We want everyone to come and have a good time,” said Castro. “When people hear our name they sometimes think this is just for the military and that is not the case. This is for everyone — of all experience levels and abilities.” 

The day starts at 10 a.m. with check-in and same-day registration. Food and beer are available for purchase and local vendors will join the fun to showcase their inventories. “At 12:20 p.m. the entertainment starts,” said Darlene Matos, Castro’s business partner. “It’s Jackie from Jackie’s Boot Camp. She promised not to boot camp us — she is a dancer and will be a lot of fun. We thank God for beer at 12:55 p.m. and at 1 p.m. we start boomeranging ourselves around the coliseum property. Hopefully everyone is done by 2 p.m. Then we have the brat-eating competition and costume judging. Last call is at 3:30 p.m. Then everyone is invited to the after party at Louie’s Sports Bar.”

The route is on the Crown property and involves mile-long laps — or one lap for the one-miler participants. “You drink a beer then walk (or run) a lap, then come around and eat a foot-long brat. Walk or run a mile and then drink a beer and walk or run a mile,” said Castro. “Our motto is: Eat. Drink. Race. Repeat.”

But that is just the beginning. There is plenty of fun to be had along the way. ”Every ¼ mile there is a pit stop with different activities at every stop. Maybe it’s dancing the polka or doing the Chicken Dance or the hokey pokey. We’ll have group hugs, singing, playing hopscotch and changing clothes with someone else,” said Matos. “So bring your ugly Christmas sweater or granny’s nightie. Bring something you would like to see someone else wearing. The clothes swaps happen three times. It will be a great time for spectators, too.” 

Participants as well as the general public are invited to contribute to the Boomerang food, diaper and clothing drive. “Like our events, this has grown every year, too,” said Castro. “The first year we had about three or four big wardrobe boxes full of things to donate. Last year we had an entire pick-up truck full of those boxes. Bring nonperishable, non-expired goods that are well packaged. We want to give back and food is not only something people need during the holidays. It is a year-round thing.”

While the Boomerang Beer and Brat Fun Run is right around the corner, it is not the only event that Special Operators Challenge hosts. This year there are five races on the calendar. “There is the Boomerang coming up on Jan. 30 and we are planning another in September for Octoberfest,” said Castro. “We have three other events in the middle of the year.” 

Mark the calendar for June 4. It’s the day of the Dirty Darby, which is a 5K mud and obstacle course event. That same day there is a kid-friendly race — The Little Muddy. Aug. 20, is the next race: The Esprit de Corps Challenge. That is an adventure race and event. It has shotgun shooting, archery and tomahawk throwing. There is a rock climbing wall, rapelling, canoeing, an observation game and fire starting. “That one has three options — no trek, a 5-mile or a 10-mile. It takes 5-12 hours depending on which trek you do,” said Castro. “We put people on a team so you get to meet people and you do not have to have any experience to participate. You can be a novice and still come out and have a great time. We have trained pros that will teach you how to do these things — draw a bow or load a shot gun or whatever you need. And if you feel uncomfortable with any of it you can opt out of that event and still participate in the overall race. If you don’t like to be in the water, you don‘t have to do it — you can pass on the canoe or guns or whatever station. You don’t have to partake of all the events. The same is true for all of our events. If you don’t care to drink at the Boomerang, no problem. If you don’t eat meat, take a pass on the brats, but come out and have a good time.”

All events are open for registration. Contestants can register for any of the events online at active.com or at specialoperatorschallenge.com. the Boomerang 5K VIP package, which includes choice parking and access to a heated tent; the Boomerang Beer and Brat 5K Fun Run individual for $35; the 1 mile fun run individual for $35; the Bratwurst eating competition for $10; and the Boomerang 6-pack team entry for $180. Registration includes a long-sleeve moisture wicking shirt, two beers and a bratwurst. Teams of six or more get a free beer for each team member. Medals are also available for $12. Participants must be 18 years old by race day and 21-years-old to drink alcohol. Nonalcoholic beverages are available for those who can’t or don’t want to drink. There are also vegetables to snack on.

Call 483-1900 or visit specialoperatorschallenge.com for more information.

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