Ogden Pub Runners Pair Libations with Fitness
Photos by Heather Bird Photography
Some things are better together: peas and carrots, peanut butter and jelly, chips and salsa, running and beer. Ok, that last combo may be lesser known, but its popularity is growing. Electrolyte-packed recovery beers like 26.2 Brew are popping up at post-race beer gardens—with even Utah races like the Salt Lake Marathon getting into the game. Clubs focused on beer running are also booming, with early adopters like Fishtown Beer Runners launching the phenomenon in America as early as 2007.
While on a run with this famed Philadelphia beer running group, I heard a word that stands out in any east coast conversation: Ogden. Two runners from Utah were visiting the city for the Beer Runners conference, a gathering of beer running clubs across America, and were representing Utah’s first beer running club: Ogden Pub Runners. Naturally, I had to share their story.
Ogden Pub Runners began in 2013 when brothers and Ogden locals Kase and Jake Johnstun sought to recreate a beer running group Kase participated in while in Tacoma, Washington. After living away from Ogden for 20 years, Kase created Ogden Pub Runners to combine his love of running and beer while showcasing the city he’s come to love.
Thanks to Ogden’s location near Hill Air Force Base and its growth as an outdoor recreation capital, many of its residents hail from out of state and are looking for a different culture than much of Utah’s.
“They’re coming to Utah saying, ‘Where are my people?’” says Kase, and they’re finding them at Ogden Pub Runners.
Designed to gather folks once a week for an easygoing social run, Ogden Pub Runners focuses on supporting local businesses while walking, running, laughing, and talking together.
Growth of the group was at first slow, but steady. For the first Ogden Pub Runners run at Roosters Brewing, just seven people participated. “The first year was really small,” says Kase, “but at the end of second year it just took off. I don’t know what it was, but word got out.”
Ogden Pub Runners now hosts between 35 and 75 runners each week for miles followed by pints at a local pub. Kase believes consistency has been key to OPR’s growth. “We were always there. We never missed a week,” this includes nighttime runs through Utah’s cold winter season.
Weekly runs are timed for the sunset with earlier starts in winter and later ones in summer. Each one ends at an Ogden-owned business; you’ll never find them running to a Chili’s.
Beyond these weekly runs every Thursday, OPR hosts four to five big events throughout the season, including a poker run, pub crawl, baseball game anniversary party, and this year, a formal end of the season event on November 9 at Ogden’s Union Grill.
While modeled after other running clubs, Kase sought to make Ogden Pub Runners different by focusing on welcoming and connecting newcomers. “We wanted to create a safe space for anyone who wants to run with us,” he says.
During each beer run, there is always a runner who tails the group to make sure everyone gets to the bar and no one runs alone.
Giving back is also an important value of the club. OPR never collects dues and is now a nonprofit organization with a board of directors focused on doing good. This includes working with the GOAL Foundation and teaming up with businesses that give back to the Ogden community.
While the health benefits of drinking alcohol after a run are still being debated, the fun aspect of imbibing after exercising reins supreme amongst this crew. After a huge 6th anniversary run, celebration, and Ogden Raptors baseball game in August, Ogden Pub Runners is setting its sights on an even bigger, better 2020 running season.
Learn more about Ogden Pub Runners and follow them on Facebook or Instagram (@ogden_pub_runners) to join in on an upcoming beer run.