Northeast Times

Ice cream, ice cream, we’ll all run for ice cream

The Fishtown Fire­balls train for the up­com­ing Root Beer Run, Thursday Au­gust 4, 2011 at Het­zels Play­ground in Fishtown.

Run­ning isn’t for every­one. But would you be more likely to go the dis­tance if you were prom­ised a cold root beer float at the end?

The Fishtown Beer Run­ners are team­ing up with the Fishtown Fire­balls girls’ soc­cer team to test out the the­ory at the Second An­nu­al Root Beer Run on Aug. 29.

Run­ners and play­ers will meet at the corner of Thompson Street and Columbia Av­en­ue at 6:30 p.m. and em­bark on a milel­ong dash to Darling’s Diner — where they’ll en­joy a round of root beer floats.

Sarah John­son, as­sist­ant coach of the Fire­balls, an un­der-13 league from the Fishtown Ath­let­ic Club, dreamed up the idea last year to get her team to en­joy run­ning.

“Some­times, it’s tough to get [the team] to run,” said John­son, 25. “I figured that if they saw a bunch of adults who do it for fun … it would help mo­tiv­ate them.”

John­son had sim­il­ar mis­giv­ings about run­ning when she joined the Beer Run­ners two years ago, but she was a fast con­vert.

“Part of the mo­tiv­a­tion for the girls is that I ab­so­lutely hated run­ning un­til I star­ted run­ning with oth­er people be­cause it’s much more so­cial,” she said. “I figured if we made it a so­cial event, they might ac­tu­ally en­joy it.”

Many of the play­ers seemed to have caught the run­ning bug after last year’s event.

“I think it was much more in­ter­est­ing than a reg­u­lar prac­tice,” John­son said of the first Root Beer Run. “They seemed to have fun.”

As the name im­plies, the Fishtown Beer Run­ners is an adult run­ning group, but its mem­bers were ex­cited to teach loc­al kids that run­ning can be fun.

In found­ing mem­ber Dav­id April’s case, a pas­sion for run­ning even earned him a trip abroad.

April, 46, star­ted the club with his friend Eric Field­er in 2007 after they heard about a re­search study on beer and run­ning.

Dr. Manuel J. Castillo-Gar­zon, a pro­fess­or of medi­cine at the Uni­versity of Gren­ada in Spain, is­sued a re­port say­ing that beer and wa­ter have sim­il­ar re­hyd­ra­tion ef­fects after ex­er­cise.

The find­ings made the Fishtown friends thirsty, and they got some neigh­bors to­geth­er to give it a try. Since then, mem­bers gath­er at April’s home every Thursday night to run three to five miles and grab a brew af­ter­ward.

When Castillo-Gar­zon heard about the ex­per­i­ment, he in­vited April to speak to stu­dents at the Uni­versity of Gren­ada about how the Beer Run­ners were ap­ply­ing his re­search.

“It was crazy,” April said with a laugh. “Here I am in Gren­ada, Spain, talk­ing about Fishtown to a bunch of med­ic­al stu­dents.”

Start­ing the Beer Run­ners didn’t only earn April a trip to Gren­ada but also a whole lot more run­ning bud­dies.

The group has ex­pan­ded rap­idly, and as many as 70 run­ners show up every week.

“Wheth­er beer really helps or not, the point is that people join us be­cause they look for­ward to com­ing out on a Thursday night,” April said.

“If they en­joy com­ing out and run­ning then they can be con­sist­ent,” he said. “Con­sist­ency is kind of the key when it comes to run­ning.”

And the Beer Run­ners will share their know­ledge with play­ers at the Root Beer Run. Each run­ner will team up with a play­er from the Fire­balls to run the mile to Darling’s to­geth­er.

“It’s a cute concept,” April said. “It was really pop­u­lar last year. We had a lot of people, and I think this year we’re go­ing to have even more.”

Friends and neigh­bors are en­cour­aged to join the run­ners for the event. Food and drink spe­cials will be avail­able at Darling’s from 7 to 9 p.m. ••

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