Fishtown Beer Runners

By: Jenny Willden

It’s 7 p.m. on a Thursday evening in Philadelphia’s thriving Fishtown neighborhood and the Frankford Avenue thoroughfare is buzzing with diners and drinkers. But that’s not where the real action is. A crowd is gathered in the nearby community greenspace of Palmer Park. Having tightened their shoelaces and made their introductions, the 70 or so tee-clad runners take off down Frankford, running 4 miles to a local pub—all in the interest of science.

Hailed as “America’s coolest running club” by “Born to Run” author, Chris McDougal, in the 10 years since its founding, Fishtown Beer Runners (FBR) has grown from two friends running to a Philadelphia bar to the city’s largest running club—with up to 100 people showing up to run each week. It has spawned chapters around the world, 10 weddings, at least five Beer Runner babies, the first-ever Beer Runner Summit, and its own documentary, “Beer Runners.”

Founded to test a study that showed responsible beer consumption after running doesn’t harm—and may even help—recovery, Fishtown Beer Runners enjoy a brew together at a different bar after each weekly run.

Friendships built here extend beyond the club with members supporting one another through personal struggles and bettering their communities with fundraising and charity work.

Running to Heal

The journey began in 2007 when then 42-year-old, David April walked out his front door, and ran down the block. Reeling from his divorce, April had hit rock bottom. Though he wasn’t a runner, by the time he reached the corner, he felt a little better. April kept it up; the runs becoming his medicine in a quest to heal. As his distance increased, so did his drive.