I’d spotted ‘The Beer Ultra‘ some time ago on Facebook – I think they popped up on my timeline at some point, probably based on Facebook servers doing a deep analysis of all my data and determining that I like ultras and I like beer.
It sounded like a blast so when the entry opened I got my details in quickly, then waited with bated breath for the two or three weeks to see if I’d been accepted. Places are limited so it was hit and miss whether I’d get a place but I dazzled them with my witty responses and got in.
I paid my £28 (to cover the cost of beer, it’s not a race entry fee).
The run – it’s not a race as they don’t have insurance/permit etc – was to take place in Buxton, in the Peak District, a notoriously hilly area of the UK. The format is: a beer at the start, then a 5k-ish run followed by a beer, repeated 10 times. So total would be 11 beers and 50k.
Organization leading up to the event was good – a couple of emails with the timings, start point and the like. The folks were also really helpful on the Facebook page, trying to marry people up with lifts / taxis etc.
I’d decided to take the Friday off to drive up there (4 hr drive). Got there about 5pm and checked into my hotel then headed out for a quick recce of the area of the run. Later, I went out for some dinner and had an uneventful evening.
Next morning I met some folks that had arrived by train and we shared a couple of taxis to the small car park that was race HQ. There were already some folks that had stayed in their camper vans the night before, and one chap that had camped. We all introduced ourselves and had some general chit chat, then the low key race briefing, while we waited for the 10am start time.
Each of the 30 runners had a case of 12 cans of beer – 11 for the run itself and one to enjoy afterwards. Everyone had been instructed to bring a local beer too, to share with everyone else – I’d brought 3, just in case. At 10am we all cracked our first one, downed the contents and headed off following the guy who set the course. There were 2 loops, an A and a B, each of 5k. The idea was that we’d alternate loops each time. So we set off downhill to start on loop A. After half a mile we left the track and headed cross country to jump over a stream. Then it was straight up the hillside for about 350ft of steep ascent, across moorland and a bit more track before another 300ft of ascent to the race HQ again.
Another beer, then off on loop B which took a nice wide track around the head of a little valley before some great downhill running, passing a bit of loop A and then another 300ft ascent to race HQ again. Loop B was definitely more enjoyable than loop A. To be honest loop A seemed a bit contrived – to get some tough ascent in, whereas loop B felt more natural.
It was essentially just more of the same all day. The weather was great – sunny, but not too hot. I wasn’t a big fan of the particular beer they used – Atom Beers, Schrödingers Cat – which was an American Amber ale.
After 3 or 4, I found I had to take a few single mouthfuls just to get reused to the taste each time I opened one, before I could take larger ‘multi gulp’ swigs. It probably didn’t help that the cans were sat out in the sun… For me, I think a (cold) lager would have been easier, but that’s personal taste, and others thought the beer was great – depends what you like I guess. There was one guy and a girl that were competing on the fastest ‘chug’ time – I think the guy just edged it on the penultimate can winning in 7 seconds (the girl being only 1 second behind !!). I was more in the 2 minute range towards the end…
I didn’t really feel like I got drunk / tipsy – either I didn’t notice, or I was mostly running it off between beers.
The first couple of hundred yards after leaving race HQ was uncomfortable, until you got the massive burp out. Nice. All in all, I felt I gave a good account – it took around 8hrs 45mins all in, but plenty of ascent and the stops at race HQ added up to a fair bit too.
Most people hung around after the event for a bit, and there were a few (Camper van drivers that had drunk too much to go anywhere) that stayed there the night. I headed off after an hour or so, grabbing a lift into town with one of the marshalls that hadn’t been drinking.
Back at the hotel I had a shower, got changed and went on the hunt for food. I ended up in Pizza Express, and as I was finishing another couple of the runners came in, and joined me. The were obviously ravenous too, as one of them asked if he could eat my leftover crusts whilst his food was being prepared. Hey it’s all fuel…
Overall I really enjoyed it, and I’d recommend it. Low key event, great atmosphere, no bling but 12 beers and plenty of laughs, all for £28.
Strava activity here : https://www.strava.com/activities/1522944310