The Beer Relay: Drink Beers, Run Trails, Repeat

The Beer Relay race poster has a tagline of "Drink, Run, Repeat." Photo: Courtesy of Adventure Fit Inc.
The Beer Relay race poster has a tagline of “Drink, Run, Repeat.” Photo: Courtesy of Adventure Fit Inc.

Here’s another example of how beer and running go together.

C’mon, who hasn’t craved a tasty, cold beer after a run? OK, that might be a no-brainer, but how about guzzling a beer during a run?

The intersection of beer and running has gained a lot of notoriety in the past year or so as the line between fitness activities and post-workout beverage consumption has become significantly blurred.

From happy hour runs starting and finishing at brew pubs, the notoriety around running a beer mile and even a running store that serves beer, two activities that used to be separated at least by some post-run stretching are now commonly intertwined.

What’s next? Introducing The Beer Relay, a six-hour team trail running relay slated for May 30 in Lyons, Colo., and July 18 in Brevard, N.C. Billed as the first ever drinking/singletrack trail running races, The Beer Relay will give runners the option of drinking a 12-ounce Oskar Blues microbrew before running a 5K singletrack trail loop and then tagging a teammate to follow suit on the next lap. Each beer consumed will result in a 2-minute time deduction from a team’s total time. The team with the most laps and the best time wins.

A team can consist of two to 10 runners ages 13 and older, but each runner drinking beer must be at least 21 years old.

The Beer Relay, which has a tagline of “Drink, Run, Repeat,” is being put on by Adventure Fit Inc., a company that has organized numerous bike and running events around the U.S.—including the Shape Magazine Diva Dash, the New Belgium Urban Assault Ride, and the Oskar Blues Old Man Winter Bike Rally. Many of those events have included beer, either during or after the athletic activities.

“Our passion is producing events with a twist. We take traditional activities and pair them in unusual ways,” says Sharon Cutler, Managing Director of Adventure Fit Inc. “When we came up with the idea for The Beer Relay, we started bouncing it off people at running shops and in the running community. At first, people thought it was a lot of running and a lot of drinking, but depending on your team size you might only be drinking a beer every two hours or so. Once people understood that, everyone started to embrace it.”

The entry fee for The Beer Relay is $50-$65 per person, depending on the size of the team. (For example, a team of four costs $180 using the code “letsparty” when signing up at thebeerrelay.com.) Included in the fee is a custom BUFF headband, free Oskar Blues beer during the relay, aid stations with water and Clif Bars.

In each location, The Beer Relay will be part of the Burning CAN ExtravaCANza, a festival featuring 200 canned beers from 58 craft breweries around the country organized by Oskar Blues Brewery. (Colorado-based Oskar Blues, which also has a brewing facility in North Carolina, was the first craft brewer to can its own beers back in 2002.)

The Burning Can festival official kicks off at 4 p.m. and extends to 7 p.m., but a lineup of live music acts are expected to start at 3 p.m. and go until 10 p.m. (Relay runners can get $30 off the $45 Burning Can admission fee by using the code “drinkrunrepeat” when signing up at Burningcan.com.) Camping is available on Friday and Saturday nights.

(The Beer Relay should not be confused with the Brew to Brew Relay, a 45-mile point-to-point relay race between two breweries held in mid-April in the Kansas City area. Also, the Seattle Running Club puts on the Fat Glass 50K, a late September relay race in which runners drink a beer and run a 5K lap. Then there is then the Bend Beer Chase, a 70-mile team relay in Bend, Ore., that sends runners to 19 breweries.)

Naturally, Shoes & Brews, a running specialty store that also serves beer in its adjacent bar just 15 miles down the road from Lyons in Longmont, is entering a team in The Beer Relay. And it appears to be the team to beat, with former collegiate track runners Rob Vermillion, Stephen Pifer and Colin Anderson ready to pound some beers and run some trails.

RELATED: Shoes & Brews: A Colorado Running Store with 20 Beer Taps

“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” says Shoes & Brews manager Ashlee Velez, who is also running on the relay team. “We’ve  always considered running a social event and craft beer is a social thing for us, too. It’s nice to see the two are catching on together in bigger way.”

The Colorado event, which will be held 25 minutes north of Boulder, is also connected to the Lyons Outdoor Games, a multisport festival that includes kayaking, slacklining and cornhole competitions. Each event will also have live music, including a free concert from The Revivalists after the Colorado trail relay.

Why are beer and running so intertwined nowadays?

“It’s part of the social aspect of being active,” Cutler says. “It’s all about camaraderie and community. When you go for a run with your buddies, you want to go hang out and have a beer with them too. It used to be people were doing it on their own—and they still are—but now there are events and communities built around it.

“Personally, I’m waiting for tequila to become the social drink of choice for active-minded people.”

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