I have been a distance runner almost my entire life (and I’ve got the stress fractures to prove it!). During my long career, I’ve noticed a distinct rift in runner culture: elite athletes who’s bodies are a temple, and then those of us (of age) who love beer. Being involved with so many races, I’ve seen enough “Pain Now, Beer Later” shirts to know that I am a beer-loving runner in good company. After a long training run, burning a bunch of calories, and making your calves revolt, a delicious beer is very well deserved. Western PA has some awesome races that combine distance running and beer!
The Beer Mile combines running WHILE drinking, instead of the standard post-race beers that we all know and love. What is a beer mile, you ask? The event is four laps on the track to total one mile, but you have to chug a 12 oz beer before each lap AND hold the empty beer can upside down over your head to prove you drank it all. Beer miles are hosted all over the world, with the world record being well below five minutes. You can compete locally in Greensburg at the Mammoth Beer Mile. This is held annually in March, and in years past, has been sponsored by Rivertowne Brewing. If chugging a beer and running isn’t quite in your wheelhouse, they also host a 5k the same day, with beers at the finish. They haven’t announced a 2020 date yet, but you can check it out at mammothbeermile.com. If you find yourself on the Eastern side of the state, Levante Brewing also hosts a Beer Mile at their brewery. They have a save the date for theirs on October 29, 2020.
An offshoot of the Light Lager Jogger, hosted in their hometown of Pottsville, Yuengling started a 5k in Pittsburgh in 2019. Slated for June 6, 2020, the Yuengling Gold Rush 5k returns! All registered runners receive a pretty awesome Yuengling technical shirt, a koozie, and a free can of beer at the finish line. This one starts at Stage AE, has a pretty flat course and a post-race party with a beer garden, two of my favorite things! You can register already for this one at yuenglinggoldrush.com
On the more family-friendly side of running, Run Around the Square in Regent Square is an annual 5k held in August. This 5k runs through Frick Park and is sponsored by one of the OG Pittsburgh craft sports, D’s 6 Pax and Dogz. This one is a real crowd-pleaser because after the race, D’s hosts a wind-ding of epic proportions right at the finish line. Free beer for the adults, root beer for the kiddos, and free hot dogs for all! Registration for 2020 isn’t open yet, but this one takes place in mid-August. You can check for registration at runaroundthesquare.com
Troeg’s in Hershey PA has figured out the perfect marriage between running and beer, and I for one, am all for it. The Troeg’s Hop Dash takes place in October each year, and is a 5k with one of the best post-race parties this side of the Monongahela. Upon finishing the race, a medal featuring a different hop is draped around your neck, and you are immediately handed two Troeg’s cans of your choosing (with valid ID). The swag bag for this one is one-of-a-kind, and features an art print, a beer tumbler, and of course, an awesome Troeg’s t shirt. This one benefits the YMCA and is about to be a new annual tradition for me. It tends to sell out quickly, so check for registration over the summer, as this one doesn’t open until closer to the fall. You can check back at Troegs.com closer to the event!
The Pittsburgh Marathon returned to the city back in 2009, after a six-year hiatus. The return got such an overwhelming response that Dick’s Sporting Goods signed the rights to keep it here for a very long time. The Pittsburgh Marathon offers a variety of distances and races, so athletes of all ages and skills can compete. Since its return, a major national brewery has jumped on to help hydrate all of-age runners taking place in the marathon weekend of events. Sam Adams jumped on as the lead sponsor in 2019 and will repeat again this year. The race ends at Point State Park for the Full Marathon, Half Marathon, and the Team relay events. Look for the after party tents, where the beer will be flowing. Be sure you bring your ID. A bib with your name on it, as far as the state of Pennsylvania is concerned, does not count as legal identification. While you’re in Market Square, you can stop into Harris Grill on Fourth Ave. They’ll give you 10% off your check with your runner’s bib. Harris celebrates runners all year round, not just on marathon Sunday, so you can get discount bacon after every race and any of their participating locations. Wigle Whiskey and Threadbare Cider are also official marathon sponsors, so be sure to pop into one of their location to take advantage of special marathon weekend festivities.
In the past 10 years Pittsburgh has evolved into both a great craft beer town as well as an great running town. Whether you’re a seasoned runner, or somebody looking to dip their toe into the sport, there are plenty of ways to have fun with it…just make sure you drink plenty of water with those beers!