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Endurance Sports And Beer. A Perfect Match?

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Beer Running
Craft beer and endurance sports go increasingly hand-in-hand

If alcohol is detrimental to your athletic performance, someone forgot to tell Rob Krar.

The 38-year-old ultrarunner, who in 2015 won the Western States, Leadville, and Run Rabbit Run 100-milers, not only enjoys a quality brew, he’s sponsored by Wanderlust Brewery in his hometown of Flagstaff, Arizona.

“A beer or two to wrap up a solid day seems the norm these days,” says Krar, whose preferred style is wheat beer. “I enjoy the taste of beer and how it relaxes me in the evenings. More and more it’s a reward I look forward to after a productive and often long day.”

Rob Krar's blazing speed is often followed by a cold brew.
Rob Krar’s blazing speed is often followed by a cold brew

That concept of beer as a “reward” well-earned after a day of training or adventure, Krar says, is why beer pairs so well with endurance sports and outdoors culture.

Add a craft beer boom in the U.S. and it makes perfect sense that athletes and adventurers are more and more capping off quality days with quality libations.

“I think running goes hand-in-hand with beer,” says Jeff Metzdorff, 32, of Saint Paul, Minnesota. An All-American distance runner in college, Metzdorff and his wife, Bekah, own the Minneapolis specialty running store Mill City Running, whose Wednesday night group run usually packs the narrow floorspace with people who come for the run and stay for – you guessed it – the beer.

Kelly Agnew and other runners power up for a "beer mile" mile competition
Kelly Agnew and other runners power up for a “beer mile” mile competition

“Running is such a social activity,”Metzdorff continues. “Drinking a beer with your friends afterwards just adds another social aspect to that, and that’s what we try to emphasize at our store. Running can be hard work but it’s also fun.”

It’s no coincidence that Mill City recently added Minneapolis-based microbrewer Fulton as a sponsor of its racing team, which competes at trail races and in the USA Track & Field Minnesota road racing circuit. It is the latest addition to Fulton’s already flourishing race team, which sponsors skiers, cyclists, and paddlers.

“Some of the founders [of Fulton] were active and interested in biking, skiing, and being outdoors, and they liked the idea that beer and exercise can be paired together,” says Erik Diley, a 29-year-old brand ambassador for Fulton from Faribault, Minn.

“Physical and social activities are very similar – you do them because you enjoy them, and they’re for your betterment, whether that’s through exercise or through spending more time with friends and family. It’s building community, and beer ties into that perfectly.”

“Life is too short to do boring things and drink boring beer,” Diley continues. “Share time with your friends, be active, eat good food, drink good beer. Everything is okay in moderation.”

In addition to brandishing Fulton’s logo – a star fashioned from hops – on their team jerseys, Mill City plans to partner with Fulton for weekly group runs – possibly finishing some of them at Fulton’s nearby taphouse.

fulton beer logo

“It will be a mutually beneficial relationship,” says Metzdorff. “We can get some people turned on to Fulton, and, hopefully, through Fulton, some people can find out about us.”

Back in Flagstaff, Krar says the ambition, challenge, and sheer joy his friends and neighbors who founded Wanderlust experience operating a craft brewery are something he can relate to as an athlete.

“I have so much respect for the risks and challenges the owners of [Wanderlust] have taken to chase their dreams… they inspire me to do the same,” he says.

“They promote an active and healthy lifestyle in so many ways – in their support of local athletes, the Team Run Flagstaff organization, local races, and many other events. It’s a relationship I’m proud to be a part of.”

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