Locally-run husband and wife team’s Four One Four puts fun in fun runs
Lori Nickel, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Back in October, during the busy weekend where the Milwaukee Brewers played Games 6 and 7 at Miller Park against the L.A. Dodgers in the NLCS, and the Milwaukee Bucks officially opened the new Fiserv Forum, you might not have known there was also a great little fun run at Veteran’s Park on the lakefront that Saturday morning.
Well … “fun.” We runners have a little twisted interpretation of that word. There were 20 mile an hour winds gusting up to 30, blowing leaves, crab apples and twigs right off the trees and right into faces. Plus, there was a brief hail shower just for kicks.
As races go, the Milwaukee Beer Run 5K (and .05K) had a couple of minor challenges, for both runners and organizers. But even with a few no-shows either due to ‘Brewers game hangover’ or the cold and flu season that hit that weekend, or the wild weather, nearly 600 runners took part – Wisconsin runners are a tough bunch – in this scenic, lively race that has become known for its attractive swag and post-race craft beer.
And it was all organized by a local couple who love fun runs.
Sam Kassel, 30, and her husband, Alex Ogden, 33, own and operate Four One Four Events. (This is the company’s legal name, but you can also find them as 414events.com on the web.)
They put on their first race, Sweet Home Milwaukee, in 2014 and it was a huge hit. Since then they have expanded to 11 races in 2018, in cities all over Wisconsin, including Madison and Green Bay.
This is impressive because Kassel and Ogden oversee everything from registration to marketing to volunteer coordination (thanks for friends and family) while working out of their Martin Drive neighborhood home in Milwaukee. In the very competitive market of fun runs and amateur athletic entertainment, Four One Four Events expects 23,000 participants this year and they’ve also collected roughly 25,000 pounds of food that is donated at various local charitable food pantries.
Four One Four Events have become popular because these are low-pressure runs, that are chip-timed but also geared toward first timers.
And the swag is fun. A lot of people sign up just because they like the look of the shirts, or the medal or the beer glasses.
That’s all Ogden. He grew up in Oregon, went to college at UW-Milwaukee and designs most of the Four One Four gear himself in a way that he thinks is attractive. The result? Fun T-shirts with the Milwaukee skyline, or appealing hoodies that are not gaudy. They’re sporty – much like the apparel sports fans wear. They’re also often in the local team sports colors, so they’re versatile.
Ogden and Kassel also don’t put sponsor logos on their shirts (at a personal sacrifice of supplemental income).
“I don’t want a T-shirt that is just going to be another gym shirt,” said Kassel. “I want a cool shirt that people would wear around.”
Runners also usually get either a glass for the beer runs – beer glasses, steins, mugs, Belgian glasses and beer can-style glassware – or medals, which often feature different Milwaukee neighborhoods.
The Milwaukee Beer Run 5K also has the one-of-a-kind .05K. This 54-yard … sprint, dash, walk, stroll … is for all the people out there who come to these races to support family and loved ones but who have no interest in running themselves.
“Kind of a hoot and holler kind of a deal,” said Kassel. “We do have all fitness levels at our runs. We do focus on just getting people up and moving. Some people use it as a goal – it is a chip timed race – others enjoy walking it, just for the view on the route.
“We want people to say, ‘It’s a beer run!’ It has that fun connotation behind it. I think that generates a lot excitement. And then the swag – people like to work for something. We want to get people to thinking, ‘I can do this.’”