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. ••