When an organized group meets weekly in a bar, one would expect them to do just one thing: drink.
But the Salty Dogs, now nearly three years old, put in a good calorie burn before they knock back their brewskis. Downtown's only organized running group meets every Monday at Bardog Tavern on Monroe. While drinking is certainly involved, it's less of an end than a means to lighten up each week's run.
The group's founder, Jen Barker, said she formed the Salty Dogs shortly after she moved to Memphis as an attempt to fill the gap of downtown running clubs.
"I was new to the Memphis area and was looking for a way to connect with people who were interested in the same things that I'm interested in: running. And I happen to like beer a lot," Barker said. "I was also employed at Bardog at that time as a bartender, so it just made sense to meet there."
The grassroots running club claims a humble beginning: After Barker posted flyers across Midtown and downtown, about 10 people showed up to the earliest meetings.
"I used to run in high school and took a four-year break through college," said Jessica Grammer, one of the original members. "I wanted to get back into shape and into the running scene, which I had no clue existed outside of high school. Little did I know, there was a whole city filled with the running scene."
Slowly but steadily, the group has grown substantially over the years with up to 50 runners joining in by the time Barker moved to Boston in 2010.
The group's name is not without rhyme or reason, and it's more than just a reference to their home base, Bardog.
"I wanted to somehow pull in the fact that we were going to be drinking and also that we would be running," Barker said. "The Salty Dog [a cocktail] is basically a Greyhound with salt on the rim of the glass, so there's alcohol involved and you get salty [from the sweat] when you run."
"There is no commitment, no fees, a new route each week, special events, and the opportunity to connect with others who are at all fitness levels," Grammer said. "Not to mention Bardog Tavern gives us specials each week, which is another incentive."
The route changes each week, but it always falls between three to six miles with shorter options available for beginners. The runs begin at Bardog at 7 p.m. every Monday, and all are welcome to join.
The Salty Dogs will host their annual Breakaway/Bardog Tavern 5K on August 18th. Proceeds benefit St. Jude Children's Hospital, and registration is open at Breakaway Running, Bardog Tavern, and online (http://breakaway-bardog5k.com/category/memphis/).