New beer runs in Halifax, Falmouth worry Nova Scotia’s top doctor

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The province’s chief public health officer says two new beer runs in Nova Scotia are yet another example of how society normalizes drinking through sport.

The first Halifax Beer Run kicks off Saturday, and the first Falmouth “TrALE Run” happens two weeks later. Both provide period beer stations through the run.

These kinds of events aren’t all fun and games to Dr. Robert Strang, who said beer runs are yet another event that “creates a sport” out of drinking.

“This culture of alcohol use and sport is entwined intimately in Canada,” Strang said.

“That’s part of this culture of normalizing [and] promoting alcohol without having … a balanced view around the harms and risks.”

Messaging to young people

Strang said he may come across as a naysayer, but he’s concerned about the cumulative effects of the message beer runs send about alcohol.

He’s especially worried about that messaging for young people, who hear through media and sport advertising how alcohol is fun.

Instead, it’s a drug that needs to be used carefully, Strang said.

‘Beer bunnies’

Organizers at each beer run say they have mechanisms in place to pace runners on how much they drink.

At the Halifax race, participants will run brewery to brewery, stopping at each for 20 minutes to sample what’s on tap. “Beer bunnies” will be on hand to ensure everyone follows the right route and arrives and departs each brewery in a timely fashion.

The Canada Beer Run 'beer bunnies'

“Beer bunnies” will keep Halifax Beer Run participants in check along the 11.4-km race route. (The Canada Beer Run)

‘Don’t see a huge liability in it’

Each participant will get one seven-ounce beer per brewery — about six-tenths of a typical bottle. To ensure runners drink no more than their share, organizer Laura Glasper said race bibs are used to keep track. When a runner gets his or her beer, that brewery’s logo on the race bib is crossed off.

“We’ve never had anybody in the last four years ever get intoxicated,” Glasper said.

“They’re just having fun. Sure, they’re buzzed and they’re feeling the beer, but we don’t see a huge liability in it.”

‘Not asking people to chug’

In Falmouth, the five-km route winds through the historic Castle Frederick Farms property, event co-organizer Shannon Pierangeli said.

Three hydration stations will offer water, as well as four-ounce microbrew samples from Schoolhouse Brewery.

Unlike a beer mile, which combines racing a 400-metre track with speed drinking a can of beer before the start of each lap, Nova Scotia’s new craft beer runs are not timed events.

“We just wanted something low-key,” Pierangeli said. “We’re not a beer mile. We’re not asking people to chug.”

The Canada Beer Run Customes

While lederhosen may be the obvious choice, beer run participants are encouraged to get inventive with their beer run attire. (The Canada Beer Run)

Growing ‘trend,’ organizer says

While new to Nova Scotia, craft beer runs have been popping up across Canada.

Glasper calls them “a trend.” She held the first Ottawa Beer Run four years ago and has expanded the event throughout Ontario to Toronto, Collingwood and Kitchener.

Last year, 1,000 people participated in the Ottawa Beer Run. She hopes to see 200 people turn out in Halifax and to grow the event from there.

“Once we’ve been to a city, it catches,” Glasper said. “Ottawa and Toronto, they sell out within days of us launching. People just love it.”

‘Jacked up for a fun day’

The Halifax Beer Run, which stretches along an 11.4-km route, will include stops involving four local breweries: Good Robot, Propeller, a remote stand by Burnside-based brewery Spindrift, then Garrison Okotoberfest.

“A lot of people will come out in costumes and in their lederhosen,” Glasper said. “Everyone is really jacked up for a fun day.”

Both the runs in Halifax and Falmouth are fundraisers for local charities: the Brigadoon Children’s Camp Society and West Hants Ground Search and Rescue, respectively.

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New beer runs in Halifax, Falmouth worry Nova Scotia’s top doctor

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