Beer run – Beer becomes reward and motivation for runners


Jess Horton of The Fit Petite. Photo by Jessica Shea

After a long race, there are few things as sweet as a cold beer.

I mean, sure, you can toast your successes with Champagne – and I’ve been known to – but there is just something about barley and hops that replenish you after pushing your body to its limit.

But the combination of beer and running is not limited to race days anymore. All around the nation, runners and beer drinkers alike are coming together to share their love of sport and celebration.

Hundreds of athletes in our own backyard are taking part in this weekly. I spend hours each week with J&A Racing’s training team, running when it’s hot, cold, and (recently) when it snowed.

We test our limits and push each other with a sense of friendly competition. More importantly, we have the time of our lives. So yes, I think it’s completely appropriate to toast to our victories. Heck, I encourage it.
So why not incorporate some damage control into your enjoyment? Adults typically burn 100 calories for every mile they run. You run 5 miles and you can have some guilt-free beer.Because let’s face it, beer is fattening; craft brews even more so. Craft beers typically contain somewhere between 250 and 400 calories, depending on type. The math on two craft beers and two pieces of pizza is upwards of 1,000 calories.

But honestly, the health aspects are only part of the appeal. The relationships are what really seem to attract people.

In two years, the lure of race chasing and beer drinking has grown our team from just 18 to over 200 members. Our group has a wide group of participants, too; elite athletes, veteran grinders and yes, plenty of first-timers.

Murphy’s Irish Pub at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront is our home twice a week. Bartenders know us by name and owners Tom and Ann Mooney have joined in. We pile in one by one as we finish our designated mileage and get to drinking.

Coach Ryan Conrad leads J&A every week. He says beer and running seem to organically come together.

“Running has transitioned from … run a race as fast as you can and then head home …  to an experience,” he says. “The energy and support at a J&A Racing event such as the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon is priceless. The live bands and beer at our post-race parties have created a place where people can celebrate their accomplishments with friends and family.”

While I spend most of my running time with J&A, I do run with other groups when I get the chance. Over the holidays, I had the opportunity to connect with Barry Clark and his crowd, the North End Run Club.

We met at Bottlecraft Beer Shop & Tasting Room in Virginia Beach on a rainy and cold winter night. We took a tour of a neighboring Hilltop neighborhood and enjoyed the view of Christmas lights as runners of all levels traversed a distance of less than 4 miles. When I asked Clark why he chooses to hold his meet-ups in bars, his answer was simple.

“Being more social encourages people to be more consistent.”


Drew Midland of Running Etc., Jess Horton of The Fit Petite, Barry Clark of North End Run Club, Ryan Conrad of J&A Racing, Greg Smith of Big Ugly Brewing. Photo by Jessica Shea

Chesapeake is getting in on the action as well. Greg Smith, leader of the Big Ugly Brewing Run Club, organizes a weekly Wednesday meet up.

“Bars are great for running events because runners like to drink at the end, move around and socialize, and (it) can get a little loud. Much more acceptable in a bar than a restaurant. Bar owners like us because it brings in income.”

Murphy’s has turned into a beer drinking, run loving mecca. Located just off the Virginia Beach Boardwalk, and neighboring First Landing State Park, the location provides the perfect route for trail lovers and wave watchers alike.

The bar also hosts the Brew Crew Run at Murphy’s where they partner with local running store Running Etc. and organizer Drew Midland.

If walking, running, beer drinking, or socializing with fun and fit people appeals to you, I encourage you to take it the streets and find a beer drinking, running tribe of your own.


What: J&A Racing’s Training Team

Who: Training Team, two 16 week sessions per year: Shamrock and Norfolk Harbor Training. Individualized coaching is also available.

When: Thursdays at 6:15 p.m. and Saturdays at 7 a.m.

Where: Virginia Beach, Murphy’s

Contact: Ryan Conrad,

Learn More:


What: North End Run Club

Who: NERC is tailored to bring together like-minded people of all ages and paces with the same mission: To get out and be active all while exploring our beautiful city of Virginia Beach.

When: Tuesday evenings at 6:15. Map of the route is posted on Monday for preview.

Where: Virginia Beach, location changes between Back Bay Brewing at the Oceanfront and Bottlecraft at Hilltop.

Contact: Barry Clark,

Learn More: On Facebook as North End Run Club


What: Brew Crew Run at Murphy’s

Who: Anyone

When: Bi-weekly Wednesday evenings at 6.

Where: Virginia Beach, Murphy’s

Contact: Drew Midland,

Learn More: On Facebook under Brew Crew Run at Murphy’s


What: Big Ugly Running Club

Who: Anyone that wants to run or walk a little or a lot, including 5K walkers to ultra-marathoners. Enjoying beer and socializing after the run is the key.

When: Wednesday evenings at Big Ugly Brewing. The run starts at 6:30.

Where: Chesapeake, Big Ugly Brewing

Contact: Greg Smith,

Learn More: On Facebook as Big Ugly Running Posse



Author: Jess Horton

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1 Comment

  1. The Chelsea Neighborhood also hosts two running groups – one on the first Sunday of the month that starts and finishes at Birch and one on the second Sunday of the Month that starts and finishes at Smartmouth Brewing. Usually offer two different running routes and speeds.

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