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Fishtown Beer Runners Go Global with International Beer Run

The Fishtown Beer Runners, the local running club founded by David April in 2007, hosted an “International Beer Run” through the streets of Philadelphia on Thursday, May 5. The event was part of the Craft Brewer’s Conference, which attracted 5,000 brewing professionals from around the world to the Pennsylvania Convention Center for a week of seminars, exhibitions, and networking.

The International Beer Run was organized by members of The Fishtown Beer Runners, Mikkeler Running Club in Copenhagen, and Toronto’s RunTOBeer.

David April at the Start

David April greet the Beer Runners at his Fishtown home.

More than 150 runners made their way from three starting points across the city to Philadelphia Brewing Company (PBC) in Kensington. Once they arrived at the brewery, runners were greeted by a DJ, food trucks, and free beer samples from PBC, Mikkeller, and Sawdust City Brewing. With tunes blaring and beer flowing, runners from around the world traded stories and talked about their mutual love of beer and running.

The concept of beer running was first made popular by David April right here in Fishtown in 2007. April, who turned to running as an outlet following a devastating divorce, was fascinated to learn about hydration research conducted by Dr. Manuel J Castillo-Garzon, Professor of Medical Physiology at the University of Granada in Spain. This surprising research showed that beer and water have similar rehydration effects when consumed in a moderate amount (660 mL). Before long, David was regularly ending his training runs with a pint and inviting friends to join him on “beer runs.”

Nine years on, The Fishtown Beer Runners are stronger than ever. Dozens of runners gather every Thursday to “further the research” of those initial hydration studies. Each week, the group runs three to five miles to a pre-determined bar, where they share a toast to Dr. Castillo-Garzon, whom they’ve affectionately dubbed “The Professor.”   Since its humble beginnings, the group has grown exponentially and has spawned dozens of offshoots across the country and around the world.  The club’s story was immortalized in the award-winning 2014 documentary film Beer Runners.

Toast to the Professor

Toast to the Professor

Tej Sandhu, Co-Founder of RunTOBeer, credited the Fishtown Beer Runners as the group that started it all for him. In 2014 he and his friend Dan Grant brought the idea of beer running to Toronto. Their semi-weekly runs now regularly attract more than 100 runners at a time. When he learned that the Craft Brewer’s Conference would be held in Philadelphia in 2016, the idea for an International Beer Run immediately came to mind.

“With brewery professionals from around the world descending upon Philly, the home of the most recognized beer-running crew, I thought what better way to promote the idea that beer and running are two great things that can be enjoyed together?” Sandhu said.

He reached out to David April and Soren Runge, who runs the MIkkeller Running Club, and the wheels were quickly in motion.

Donning a red Fishtown Beer Runners tech shirt, acquired in a soccer-inspired “jersey swap” with Fishtown’s Ceasar Bautista, Sandhu beamed as he talked about his experience organizing and participating in the International Beer Run.

Caesar and Tej Jersey Swap

“This is exactly the kind of event that I look forward to most at conferences. People who love running and drinking beer are the best! The energy was very much the same as a RunTOBeer event: completely positive, inclusive, and friendly. I could hear complete strangers exchanging stories about where they were from, their running goals, and beer,” he said.

Prior to this conference, Sandhu’s only experience in Philadelphia was a short layover at Philly International, a stark contrast to Thursday night when he ran past the historic sights of Independence Hall, through scenic Old City and the lively streets of Fishtown.

“What a great city! To see the birthplace of America was really awesome. I grew up in Chicago, so I learned American History in school and so much happened in Philly. I love the architecture and it seems to be a really great city for running too,” he said.

FBR Mikkeller RunTOBeer

David April with fellow runners from Mikkeller and RunTOBeer

When asked about David April, Sandhu couldn’t be more complimentary. “What an awesome guy! His positivity and energy must be a huge reason people come back to run with Fishtown Beer Runners. I love the way he thinks and cares about making a great experience for his members,” he said.  

Clutching a DVD version of the Beer Runners documentary, he added, “I’m really excited to show this to RunTOBeer members in Canada.”

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