One of my favorite running events of the Ottawa race season is the Beer Run. The Canada Beer Run: Ottawa Edition is run by inStride Events. The same event management company that runs the Manotick Miler and a few other local Ottawa races. I have volunteered with inStride several times and they are a great group of people. Last year, I was a “Beer Bunny”, a volunteer that ensured that everyone stayed on track. This year, I was just an average participant. However, in full disclosure, I earned my bib by volunteering at Manotick Miler and The Sporting Life 10K. #VolunteerPerks.
This year, the Ottawa version of the Canada Beer Run had many more runners and two different routes. You had a choice between the 9.5K route or the 14.5K route. The 14.5K route did have an extra brewery stop. Important to note that although both races started and finished at the same locations, the in between stops were different. I ran the 14.5K route which included Lowertown Brewery, Mill Street, Kitchessippi, Clocktower (Westboro) and Beyond the Pale. The 9.5K Route had Lowertown and Beyond the Pale, but the stops were 3 Brewers and Clocktower (Bank St). Race kits were to be picked up on Thursday or Sunday. Sunday being if you had someone to give the kit to, or wanted to drag it around. This year’s t-shirt was a white tech shirt. Unfortunately, the shirt was a men’s small which means it is basically a dress on me. I noticed on Sunday that the many men were wearing the shirt, but almost no women (except the volunteers in a bright neon version). The race kit came with a bib and a beer cozy.
We started our run at the Lowertown Brewery. We were instructed to not start “the pre-party” until 20 minutes before the race. They were very strict on that and wouldn’t even let you have your sample of beer before the 20 minute to go mark. Even when the wave before you took off, you still had to wait. The Lowertown beer was some sort of apricot beer and it was pretty gross. It had a sour fruity flavour to it. They also had popcorn to snack on, but unless I wanted to be on the floor dying of stomach cramps, I passed. The sample we received was pretty small with no refills. Apparently in the first year of the Beer Run, it was almost like free flowing beer. Last year only a few breweries allowed for a second sample, this year only 1 location. More on that in a bit. I did have my Beer Run Buddy, Don with me on Sunday. There were also a number of people there from the previous year as well as some faces that I recognized. The weather was not the greatest on Sunday. It was downright pouring about an hour before I left. The weather held up for most of the afternoon, with a light drizzle.
One big change for this year’s Beer Run was a pretty significant route change. In 2014 and 2013, Big Rig was one of the stops which meant running around the Highway 417 area, through some industrial parts. Because Big Rig held the launch party and had beers at the end, there was no Big Rig stop. The rest of the breweries were near the downtown core or in Westboro which meant we stuck close to the Ottawa River path and other scenic routes. Races almost NEVER go down onto the path right below Parliament Hill and the Supreme Court of Canada. On Sunday, we got to run that path. Sweet! We did have to cross the canal locks to get there though. Hidden obstacle!
We had a short run to the Mill Street Pub (about 2.8K) and everyone kind of ran a bit fast. Gotta run to get that beer!
So last year, Mill Street was the pub that only gave you a very small sample and that was it. This year, the complete opposite. Mill Street gave out large cups of their Organic beer and were totally cool with refilling your cup. Now, to be clear, it is not like I’m thinking about downing a pint and going for a run. That would be silly. This isn’t the Beer Mile! However, a sample slightly larger than a few sips is always great. Mill Street also had some chips and salsa out on the tables. Mill Street has a fantastic location on the waterfront and was probably my favorite stop of the day.
The next run was slightly longer. I have it mapped out at around 5K – so no wonder I felt like poop during that run! Great route, all along the water. But still – I was a bit out of shape 😉
Kitchessippi was set at Bate Island. Obviously, their brewery is not located there, but they had a little beer truck. It would have been a great location if the weather was a bit nicer. They did have snacks, but the snacks were totally demolished by Waves 1 and 2. There were empty boxes of chips, chocolate bars and other goodies. Thanks Wave 1 and (maybe) Wave 2. They had their Heller Highwater available with a reasonable sample. It is one of my go-to beers, so I enjoyed it. It was probably the best beer of the day, along with Mill Street for people who like non-hoppy, non-flavoured beer.
The next run took us back over the bridge from Bate Island into Westboro. About a 3.3K run to the Clocktower. At least this time we hit lots of lights! Instant break!
Clocktower had us inside since it started to rain a bit more heavily. Inside we were given a small sample of the Pumpkin Ale and a poutine. The poutine saved the day because a) I was hungry and b) the beer sample size was small. Last year we got a slightly bigger sample of both the Pumpkin and the Kolsch. We all managed to stay outside since it was cooler. The Clocktower has big umbrellas and we all just stayed under there. No extra samples of the beer, but we could take an extra poutine. It was delicious, despite the marble cheese instead of cheese curds. I did regret eating two poutines as soon as we started running again.
The next run was about 3.5K to the last stop: Beyond the Pale. This run was pretty awful. My legs were done by this point (I haven’t run more than 5K in two months) and it also started to downpour. I arrived at BTP a little wet and tired.
Beyond the Pale
Last year, BTP was the second last stop and they didn’t seem to care if you had more than one sample of beer. This year we were told in advance to bring $$ to buy food and snacks at the BTP after party. So, not totally unexpected that we were only given a small sample of beer. The beer truck at the after party had many different beers available include a selection from Beau’s and Big Rig (probably more). Beau’s Lug Tread was already gone by the time I arrived, so I tried a BTP Pink Fuzz. It was great! They were charging $6 a beer, which is reasonable. Seemed like everyone had purchased something.
I took two pictures – one of my empty beer cup and one of the crowd, where someone is pointing at something. Great.
There was food at the after party, but I didn’t really look at what was available. The whole parking lot was filled with food, beer, recovery zone stuff and that sort of thing. Luckily, Jane was still there so I hung out with her and her friends. We stuck around until 4pm-ish and went home. I was pretty chilly by that time.
The Beer Run is still a great running event. It is not a race by any means but more a fun way to get out with friends, sample some beer, and do a little running. The smaller sample sizes were probably for legal reasons and really, it is not like I am wanting a pint of beer or anything like that. Some people were buying pints/pitchers of beer at the various locations and sharing it with their group. A suggestion would also be to have extra sample available for a $1-2 charge that maybe could go to the Beer Run charity. I definitely don’t want a full-sized beer, but would have totally paid some extra $$ for another sample of the pumpkin ale at Clocktower.
The route was amazing this year, and I hope that we get to do the same route next year. If it was sunny out, it would have been even nicer. HOWEVER – *if* it was a nice day out, we might have had some congestion issues at some points. We pretty much had the path to ourselves. The race shirt was not as nice as last year’s baseball shirts. But, it isn’t like I can wear a shirt that says “Follow me to the Beer” at school or anything 😉
Just like last year, I strongly suggest that you sign up for this event in 2016 if you like running and beer. It is an event not to be missed. The race sells out VERY quickly, so you need to watch the website and inStride/Beer Run’s social media accounts for registration details. This year there are also events in Toronto and Collingwood.
Hope you have a great Tuesday!