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This week I'd like to take a different tone. Not to solely talk about beer but the interesting things this man is doing at the intersection of my many interests - running, beer-drinking, while doing good for the community.
Kyle Ballard, is an endurance athlete, running guru, coach, and most recently founder of the City Beer Runs program - a new form of social exercise meets beer drinking. Apart from being an all-around inspiration, Kyle has experience both on and off the podium and has been active in the endurance sports space since 2007. "The endurance sports scene is a small and incredibly rewarding community but I wanted to use my experiences to make an impact."
Started in 2013, their initial efforts have seen hugely positive returns and exponential growth rates every year. They're scheduled to hold almost 20 individual events this year in both the city, East Bay and Marin county. "We started with only a few events due to friends and some colleagues at Rogues Ales or Finnegan's but are now looking to expand into more local scenes outside the city to give our attendees the spectrum of what the Bay has to offer," says Kyle.
It almost seems contradictory when thinking on the concept of drinking and running. One social; the other solitary. A nighttime endeavor; a daytime exercise. When asked about this, Kyle gave some of this thoughts, "There's always been a spectrum of drinking and running phenomenons from the Hash House Harriers, known as the 'drinking club with a running problem', to the classic beer track mile. We're tackling a middle market of enthusiasts by providing an organized atmosphere to explore both in a casual manner."
Each event varies in size depending on the limit capacity of the beer joint and tickets seem to sell out fast. Having yet to participate in one, I understood the general order of procedures by simply scrolling through the instructions on their website. Simply, you run, then you drink, but not together. They events do seem catered to the more casual type of audience. Those looking for a convenient way to exercise in groups while fitting in a beer on the road to fitness.
Personally, I think Kyle is playing the right game. Whether running or drinking or simply having fun, he's always keep things in perspective. City Beer Runs is a partner of KEEN SF, an organization that manages non-competitive sports programs for developmental and physical disabled kids. Kyle was raised in a family whose involvement in this field has inspired his mission from the very beginning, "my mom is a therapist, aunt works in special education, and uncle coaches special Olympics so growing up this was ingrained throughout my childhood." I'm glad to hear they're raising upwards of $8,000 this year for KEEN SF.
Whether you're getting your group of friends together or want to meet liked-minded individuals, check out their website (www.citybeerruns.com) for the latest bars/breweries and their facebook page for updates.
A few names include Park Chalet, Marin Brewing, Speakeasy Ales, Lake Chalet, Thirsty Bear, Pyramid Alehouse, Social Kitchen, Santa Cruz Mountain, Rogue, Strike, Triple Voodoo, Magnolia Brewing, and Faction Brewing. Here's a snapshot below.