Todd Jennings: Hoppiness is competing in a local beer run

One of the greatest things about the sport of running is the myriad of ways in which you can experience it. In the past I’ve discussed the virtues of group running, running on trails, ultra running and so on. But there’s a category that is a bit less conventional, and yet its popularity is growing by leaps and bounds, largely due to its inherently social nature.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you … the beer run.

As it turns out, your typical beer run is actually not all that typical. Sometimes it’s a race, a great example of which is the Boilermaker 15K. One of the oldest beer runs in the country, the Boilermaker has been held on the second Sunday in July in Utica, N.Y., every year since 1978. Founded originally as a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Utica Radiator Company, organizers partnered with the F.X. Matt Brewing Company (which produces the Saranac brand) as chief sponsor, and placed the race finish line right in front of the brewery. Each year 19,000 runners and another 10,000 local revelers fill the brewery parking lot for a post-race bash that is second to none.

A local example of this type of beer race is the Newburgh Draught Day 5-Mile Race, which was held from 2014 to 2016. Just as with the Boilermaker, it finished right in front of a brewery — in this case the Newburgh Brewing Company — and featured post-race beer for runners and guests.

But sometimes — many times, in fact — a beer run is not a race. Often, it’s simply a beer session at a brewery or a pub that happens to be preceded by a run. These runs may be timed or not timed depending on the intentions of the event coordinator. And the timed ones may not even have performance-based awards. Entry fees are often waived, or structured in the form of a recommended donation to a local charity.

Some Hudson Valley breweries have acknowledged the virtue of this popular concept and gotten on board, hosting runs at their facility. One such brewery is Rushing Duck in Chester, which was the venue for two years for an event called Rushing The Duck. Taking place around Halloween, the event was essentially a running costume party followed by an hour or two of craft beer in the brewery’s tap room. As awards, a 64-ounce jug of fresh beer (known as a growler) was given to the best male and female costumes.

A group of runners braved temperatures in the 90s on July 4th to run from pub to pub to pub in Monroe, the event calling itself the Red, White & Brew Pub Run. There were no entry fees and no awards. Just a fun run with a group of like-minded people, with a few malt beverages along the way.

Another informal run of this sort will take place at Glenmere Brewing Company in late October, and like Rushing The Duck, will be a Halloween-themed gala featuring post-run beer at the brewery’s facility on Maple Avenue in Florida. The event will solicit donations to benefit Hospice of Orange & Sullivan Counties.

Also on the calendar in October is the Livingston Manor Half Marathon & 5K. Taking place at the popular Catskill Brewery, this formal race will offer food, musi, and lawn games at the finish line. And, of course, a complimentary beer to all registered runners.

With more and more breweries opening up around our region, it seems that beer runs are here to stay. So if you fancy yourself a beer connoisseur, sign up for one of these great events. But don’t forget to drink responsibly.

Run on, friends!