The Straight Street Hill Climb Rewards Finishers With Brats and Beer

The annual fund-raiser has offered a sort of self-torture for more than 40 years.
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Illustration by Zachary Ghaderi

The Straight Street Hill Climb is a malicious one-third mile race up the are-you-kidding-me steep Straight Street between West McMicken Avenue and University Court that’s really a fund-raiser for kids. It had to be for something, says Doug Newberry, race director since 2006 and president of the Greater Cincinnati Soap Box Derby. After the race was dropped by the Clifton Track Club in the ’80s, Newberry decided 
to use the registration fee to benefit his organization. And 
it’s working. Roughly 100 to 145 masochists raise around $700
 on the Sunday before Thanksgiving by either hoofing it up the hill or cycling the monstrosity (or, if you have sins to exorcise, both). Registration includes free brats from Queen City Sausage and discounted beers at the Mecklenburg Gardens after-party. Just don’t do it solely for the suds; there’s a better reason to lumber across the finish line. “We tell people, ‘As you’re running up the hill, you’re helping kids go down the hill.’ ” But, to be clear, not derby-ing down Straight Street. “Oh no, there’d be deaths involved,” Newberry imagines. “Once you get to the bottom there’s no place to stop—you’d cross McMicken and launch into the air.”

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