Building community one BEERUN at a time

by Brian Crean

March is a great month in Greensboro. It seems like there’s always a lot going on, and this year is no exception. The ACC Tournament was back in town. St. Patrick’s Day has arrived. Spring is in the air.

And, if by chance, you’re a runner, or a friend of a runner, or a mother of a runner, or a father of a runner, or a sibling of a runner… then you know what else happens every March. It’s time for the BEERUN.

Hosted by the Old Town Draught House on Spring Garden Street in the heart of UNCG’s campus, the 5-mile race has become an institution. No matter what Mother Nature dishes out, — whether 45 degrees and rainy or 85 degrees and sunny — the BEERUN will happen, and it will put a smile on your un-tanned, out-of-shape, winter-weathered face.

This Saturday, the runners will arrive. Their friends and family will gather along Spring Garden Street. The starting gun will go off. The beer will flow. The band will play. And a community of runners and drinkers will connect and grow closer.

And it’s all for the Special Olympics.



It all started back in 2000, when the Old Town Draught House was owned by Chris Lester and Kayne Fisher — the owners of the successful and everexpanding Natty Greene’s Brewing Company. At the time Lester was training with his father-in-law Jerry Cecil. As the two of them signed up to run races together, an interesting idea began to take shape. What if Old Town organized a race kind of like the now defunct downtown race called the Tour of the Taverns?

The race could start in the afternoon and runners could enjoy beer and music after. In the words of Cecil himself, “Runners just love a good T-shirt and a free beer.”


The BEERUN is a 5-mile road race.

Instead of the more common 5k or 10k distances, Cecil thought that it would be more original to pick a unique format.

So he and Lester decided on a challenging 5-mile course that would wind its way around the draught house’s neighborhood and through the campuses of UNCG and Greensboro College. It’s a beautiful course, but as many Beerunners know, looks can be deceiving.

As Lester puts it, “I wanted to map out a course with a bunch of hills.”

The Market Street and Spring Garden Street sections will get your heart pumping in the middle of the race, but the final hill up Kenilworth Street during the last mile is a killer. If you listen to the runners talking with each other after the race, you’ll hear plenty of discussions about “that last hill.”


In 2011, the organizer and current owner of Old Town, Matt Lipp, has decided to add another distance to the race. The 1 mile FUN FROLIC has been created so friends and family who aren’t up for the 5 miles can still participate. With the input of his fit runner-wife, Molly, Lipp decided it was time to expand the scope of the event.

“We thought it would be neat to have something for younger kids to get involved with…. My favorite part of the event is getting to see old friends that have either moved away or started families. It’s a lot of fun to catch up after the race.” says Lipp.


In addition to the new Frolic, Lipp has teamed up with On-the-Mark Sports to offer chip timing this year. Beerunners get a long sleeve T-shirt and two beer coins. Frolickers get a T and one coin. For those who haven’t already signed up online, day-before registration and packet pickup takes place between 5-7 p.m. Friday. Would-be Beerunners and Frolickers may also sign up between 1-2:30 p.m. on race day, Saturday. The race starts at 3 p.m. Natty Greene’s is providing the beer. Awards will be given out at 5 p.m. And the parking lot party goes on until 6 p.m.

It’s a great event for a great cause, and thanks to the UNCG Police Department and the 1808 Foundation’s volunteer effort, this year’s run should be better than ever before.