More than 17 million Americans finished a road race in 2015, which adds up to a head-spinning number of bananas and energy shots consumed. But once runners have toweled off, they’re entitled to a big, filling feast. If you’ve volunteered to host a post-race brunch, there are plenty of ways to make the party so much fun that attendees forget the pain of their final miles. For tips on everything from set-up to take-away favors, read on.
No matter which menu you choose, don’t forget that hydration is critical in the hours after physical exertion. If you arrange a Bloody Mary Bar or pour celebratory mimosas, make sure to also keep filled water pitchers on the dining table. Enhance water’s appeal by flavoring it with fruit.
Prepping the Place
It’s not unusual for competitive runners to enjoy a cheeseburger or sub sandwich in the bathtub after a race (hey, you’ve earned it.) Obviously, it’s not practical to draw baths for every race finisher on your guest list, but it’s not too hard to place small foot-soaking tubs beneath the dining table. Or if your space lends itself to more casual seating arrangements, runners won’t mind having carpeted surfaces and cushions available for stretching and sprawling. Many races have a theme, which should provide instant inspiration for table décor. For example, if your guests just completed a 5K celebrating summer, seasonal flowers ought to be on the table.
Creating the Menu
Surveys show that runners aren’t picky about what they eat after a race: After all, they’re famished. But many competitive runners follow restricted diets as a matter of course, so to speak, meaning one of the following three menus might be most appropriate for your crowd. As for how much food to prepare, this handy guide should help.
Go for the Carbs
Generally, runners load up on carbs before a race and eat lean protein after it. But as the many races that treat competitors to beer at the finish line suggest, runners often still have a taste for carbohydrates when they’re done racing (especially if the race is held in cold weather.) But this isn’t the time to break out bagels and cream cheese. Instead, stress whole grains and vegetables with the following line-up:
- Fluffy Pancakes
- Savory Sweet Potato Hash
- Whole Grain Waffles
- Easy French Toast Waffles
- Bacon and Egg Doughnuts
Staying Strong with Vegan Options
A recovery meal doesn’t have to involve eggs or cheese. This menu features protein from plant-based sources, including quinoa and tofu.
- Blueberry Lemon Breakfast Quinoa
- Anna’s Scrambled Tofu
- Meyer Lemon Avocado Toast
- Ultimate Tofu Breakfast Burrito Bowls
It’s been decades since athletes tore into bloody steaks after competing, but it’s still wise to make a beeline for protein in the wake of a hard-run race. This brunch is heavy on the lean proteins of which nutritionists and healthy eaters approve.
- Baked spinach-and-egg white muffins
- Cottage cheese pancakes
- Easy almond butter cookies
- Turkey breakfast sausage