fishtown beer runners: an interview With david april
FBR is an awesome org in Philly - learn all about it!
FBR is an awesome org in Philly - learn all about it!
David April is the founder of Fishtown Beer Runners, a thriving running community that started in Philadelphia and has spin off groups worldwide.
Ian Campbell is the founder of eseo, an app that unites athletes in communities around Philadelphia.
David and Ian sat down together to talk about the origins of Fishtown Beer Runners, and the impact it makes in communities.
One day, at one of the lowest points in my life, at 42years old, I walked out my front door and ran down my block. I had never run in my life and it felt good. That was the beginning of my running journey.
Fishtown Beer Runners is a social running club. Our motto is “Responsible running and drinking in the interest of science!”
We are a group of runners that like to socialize on Thursday nights. The most significant thing we do besides running and encouraging people to reach their running goals, is giving back to our community. That’s a really important pillar of our club and sets us apart from other groups. We make it our mission to raise money for different charities.
There’s the running, there’s the socialization (which helps us and motivates us), and there’s the community aspect of it.
David started running after facing a personal crossroads in his life. He never had an interest or proclivity for running, but once he began, he recognized its power to accomplish more than just physical fitness. He began to regularly run, and connect with other people.
Along the way, he learned from his friend and running mentor, Eric Fielder, about an interesting research study on the effects of beer intake as a means of hydration after a run. Pursuing this idea, he began to pair running with responsible drinking, and a community formed around the practice.
One thing led to another, and David connected with the study’s author, Dr. Manuel Castillo. On a visit to meet Dr. Castille in Barcelona and Madrid, David met his now wife.
David’s story caught the interest of a filmmaker, who turned his story into a documentary.
My friend Eric was training me to run a 5K. As I started running and saw improvement, I got really excited, like most new runners do. Everything that we do is an accomplishment. It’s the first time. I ran my first mile. Second mile. Everything was a milestone and I felt like I was achieving a lot. I was just so excited. I’m a real people person and community person. I also hate running. So, I decided that if I was going to run I wanted to share the pain with other people.
Out of this experience of finding a new world, I wanted to share it with other people. That’s when I decided to start a group.
To have a first time runner who just trained for a 5K start their own running club is kind of funny. But, as an amateur, I was intimidated to join an established training running club. I didn’t feel I could just show up so I decided to start my own. That was back in 2007.
I love running with people, and running around this city. We’ve had people who just moved here a day before and decided to come out and run with us. We provide an instant community. I really enjoy that and feel I have a responsibility to keep the club going. So many people are connected to it and have benefitted from it and it’s a part of their lives.
For example, we have about 12 weddings that have come out of Fishtown Beer Runners, with a 13th coming up this summer. We have about 10 Beer Runner babies. It’s bigger than me, obviously. So I feel some responsibility to keep it going.
The club and running has had a huge impact on others.. For me, I didn’t understand when I first started that running can be transformative. I only realized that as I started my journey. My running paralleled the beginning of Fishtown Beer Runners, which grew.
When I was at my lowest point, I needed to get outside my comfort zone. I thought that would be the only way to heal… and running opened up a whole new world.
It’s fair to say that running changed my life. I would encourage anyone to push forward and get outside your comfort zone.
There are currently about 20 chapters of FBR in the United States, and about 75 in Spain. In Spain, the Spanish Brewer’s Association sponsors them.
These chapters usually arise through one of two situations:
Prior to COVID-19, we’d average about 100 people just in Fishtown every Thursday night. Since COVID-19, we average 60-75 people. We always have new people coming back and most of them stick around.
We love the people who have been with us, and we love seeing new faces.
It’s also important to us to continue to raise money for our charities, which is another way in which we measure the positive impact we’re having in this community.
Two Fishtown Beer Runners started The Philly Mayor’s Cup. It is happening on August 13, 2022, and is an excellent way for runners of all skill levels to get plugged into the running community here in town.
You can learn more at www.phillymayorscup.com
We are exploring ways to formalize the organization of the club in order to provide some sustainability into the future. I’ll get others involved on a more formal level to ensure all of the great aspects of the club continue including our commitment to charitable activities.
eseo is passionate about uplifting athletes of all kinds in our local communities. David’s story is inspiring. If you are looking to connect with runners near you, download the eseo app today.