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Shannon Bryan

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Posted: March 2, 2015

For Portland runners who drink beer: Join Old Port Pub Run for a run followed by beer every Thursday

Written by: Shannon Bryan
That's Jeff Musk running on the sidewalk down Commerical Steet during a recent group run with Old Port Pub Run. Shannon Bryan photo

That’s Jeff Musk and Maggie Stanley running on the sidewalk down Commercial Street during a recent group run with Old Port Pub Run. Shannon Bryan photo

“There’s beer at the end.”

Those words are motivation enough for lots of things (to finish mowing the lawn or to finally file your taxes).

The promise of a “beer at the end of the tunnel” is also a compelling reason to head outside on a 19-degree winter evening for a brisk three-mile run through Portland’s Old Port and along the Eastern Prom, where the ocean isn’t even visible thanks to the early-onset winter darkness.

Of course, the Old Port Pub Run running group wasn’t born out of anyone’s desire to sprint up Munjoy Hill on Maine’s coldest nights. The group’s founder, Leslie Dillon, started the group last June (remember June? It’s temperate – dare I say warm – and still sunny even hours after you’ve left work).

Dillon, who’s an avid runner (in case that needed clarification), was new-ish to southern Maine back then and looking for a running and beer-drinking group to join. She’d participated in such a group in New Hampshire – a kind of open club of runners who could put down a few miles after work and then loiter at a local pub for a beer and some runner camaraderie – but she didn’t find such a thing in Portland.

(There are certainly plenty of dedicated running groups around here – and no doubt members might meet for a post-run beer now and then – but Dillon was hoping to join a group where the post-run beer was more of a rule than an exception.)

Leslie Dillon, left, Jeff Musk Maggie Stanley and Shannon Jenkins head out for a run from Liquid Riot Bottling Company on Commercial Street in Portland. They're all ready with layers, reflective vests and headlamps. Shannon Bryan photo

Leslie Dillon, left, Jeff Musk Maggie Stanley and Shannon Jenkins head out for a run from Liquid Riot Bottling Company on Commercial Street in Portland. They’re all ready with layers, reflective vests and headlamps. Shannon Bryan photo

Seems like an obvious combination, too. There are a lot of runners in Portland. We see them everywhere: darting around the slow-moving pedestrians and widowshoppers downtown, jogging the scenic Back Cove trail or dashing across the windy Casco Bay Bridge.

And we have lots of beer drinkers, too. We see them drinking beer in all the usual places.

So Dillon put two and two together: Run + Beer = Old Port Pub Run.

“People who run and drink beer tend to be really good people,” joked Dillon. And judging by my inaugural run with Dillon and the group, they’re a friendly and welcoming sort, too.

Old Port Pub Run is free and open to runners of all levels. (I’m a self-proclaimed “non-runner,” but I joined the group of 20- and 30-somethings for a winter run last Thursday. The pace was easy enough for me to keep up and afterward Dillon noted, “Not a runner, you said? You just ran.” So I did!)

During the winter, the group is fairly small – a handful of hardy year-round runners turn out each week, said Dillon. “Some weeks we get two people,” said Dillon. “Some weeks it’s seven or eight.” And despite all the cold and snow we’ve had this winter, they’ve only cancelled twice. In warmer months, not surprisingly, the group grows.

Makes sense. If I were a regular runner, I’d no doubt be a fair-weather one. Except our winter run last Thursday was actually pretty fantastic.

Running along the Eastern Prom. The ocean's out there somewhere. Shannon Bryan photo

Running along the Eastern Prom. The ocean’s out there somewhere. Shannon Bryan photo

We’d all dressed appropriately – in layers and with reflective vests and jackets – and a few minutes into the run I was quite warm. Hot even. Running along Commercial Street, we dodged winter walkers out for dinner or heading to their cars after work. But on the Eastern Prom it was quiet and dark, aside from the row of street lights casting sporadic orange spotlights onto the trail. The rhythmic crunch of packed now under our feet was matched by my own rhythmic panting. Everyone else chatted as they ran – asking each other about work and travels and one runner’s recent cross-country skiing escapades.

Most of these runners were strangers before they started running together. Now they’re running friends.

Post-run beers at Liquid Riot Bottling Company. There were pitchers of water waiting when we arrived, because the bartenders at Liquid Riot are thoughtful like that. Shannon Bryan photo

Post-run beers at Liquid Riot Bottling Company. There were pitchers of water waiting when we arrived, because the bartenders at Liquid Riot are thoughtful like that. Shannon Bryan photo

The group runs range from three to five miles and are open to runners of all levels, said Dillon, even walkers. With smaller groups in the winter, they generally stick together, but can certainly divide up if runners prefer different paces.

Interested runners are welcome any time, just meet up in the lobby area of Liquid Riot by 6:15 p.m. Thursdays. And while it continues be dark by that hour, be sure to wear some reflective gear and/or a headlamp, because you’ll want to arrive safely back at the bar.

Why? Because there’s beer at the end, of course.

Old Port Pub Run

Meets 6:15 p.m. every Thursday, year-round. There’s no cost to participate, but do bring money to buy yourself something to drink or eat after the run. Reflective gear and headlamps encouraged during the winter.
FMI: www.facebook.com/oldportpubrun and twitter.com/OldPortPubRun

More ways to run and drink

Portland Hashers
If you fancy some debauchery with your running/drinking groups, check out http://www.portlandhashers.com/. They’re self-proclaimed “drinkers with a running problem,” and the emphasis is on the drinking and socializing (and costumes and singing) than the actual running. They’re wonderfully naughty, too.
FMI: www.portlandhashers.com

Port City Running Tours
How does running from brewery to brewery sound? Good? Good! Check out the Brewery Running Tours from Port City Running Tours. Private tours range from less than three miles up to eight miles, depending on how dedicated to the running you are, and make stops at several breweries.
FMI: portcityrunningtours.com

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