Sheridan: Chicago Runners Find Motivation -- in a Beer Mug

The group at their Monday run in 2008 with Rod Blagojevich in 2008.

The group, which had a visit from Rod Blagojevich in 2008 during 
a Monday night run, welcomes all types of runners (Photo courtesy of Chicago Beer Runners).

Sheridan El Stop IconBy Lauren Camplin
The Red Line Project

Posted: Monday, March 7, 2011

In 2008, Rogers Park resident Brad Perkins searched the Internet for a running group to keep him in shape for races. One match stood out in particular -- the Chicago Beer Runners.

“There are other running groups where you go meet in your certain place and you run your eight miles or whatever and then you don’t see each other,” Perkins said. “This way we have a nice meeting place. It’s really the group aspect. The beer is nice, too.”

Every Monday and Wednesday, the group of 20 to 25 runners meet at Southport Lanes in Lakeview at 6:30 p.m., their meeting place for the past three years. As its name implies, the group mixes two incongruous passions -- distance running and beer drinking.

“It’s a great location. They’re very welcoming and they all know us here,” Perkins said.

The group is not hard to spot in the bar. Sitting by the door with duffel bags, tennis shoes, and layers of clothing, members laugh like old friends and welcome first timers.

“Running, beer, and fun people. It really is so simple,” said participant John Hanauer.

Once everyone has arrived and dropped off the gear, the group heads out on a set route of three to five miles at varying paces. Perkins sees having a known route for everyone as an advantage for those not familiar with the area.

“It’s nice to have a set route because when we come back if someone isn’t there we always know where to look,” said Perkins.

Along with their weekly runs, the Chicago Beer Runners also participate in pub runs, five bars in five miles, twice a year. In February, over 30 members attended the “Pub Run 6” and in April some of the group will head to Nashville to run the Rock n’ Roll half marathon.

Hear Mary Paracka tell how she met her future husband through the running group below.

Chicago Beer Runners by Lauren Camplin

One member, Tim Carr, recalls his favorite memory happening at the Kenosha Half Marathon he ran with Perkins.

“I’m also a musician and I had a gig so I couldn’t come to Kenosha until really late that night so here I am driving after midnight after I play a musical gig downtown,” Carr said. “I get to my hotel in Kenosha, it’s not the nicest hotel in the world. I go to my door, turn the lock, and the door’s locked. I can’t get out of my hotel room in Kenosha. So I was locked in my room until about 3 a.m. until they could call a locksmith the day before the race.”

Unfortunately for him, the bad luck continued on race day.

“So I’m just hanging back, chilling with Brad, and 20 yards until the end of the race Brad takes off,” said Tim with a smile. “Didn’t say a dang word, takes off in a dead run. It was everything that I could do to catch up with him. Brad beats me by one second. He never lets me forget that he beat me in a race”

While many of the members are dedicated runners, they’re welcoming of everyone.

“We have people who are fast, we have people who are slow, people who are skinny,” said Carr. “We have people who are getting off the couch to run and that’s what makes us very special. We appeal to everyone.”

The Chicago Beer Runners prepare for a frigid run in March.

The front of the group starts its frigid route from
Southport Lanes on a Wednesday night run. (Photo by Lauren Camplin)

Runners like Perkins and Carr both use Beer Runners as a change of pace to their weekly routine.

“Sometimes I come to Beer Runners saying I’m going to run a shorter route really hard and other times and I’m just going to lay back, said Tim. “It gives you this nice change of pace to your normal workout routine”.

Whether you’re there to meet friends or in some members’ case, your future spouse, Brad Perkins sees the evolution of Chicago Beer Runners as boiling down to “comradery”. 

“It’s become a great thing. It’s a bunch of people who like to run, who like to drink and we’ve become fast friends.”

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