Big Marathons. Big Beer. Big Bust.

Boston MarathonBOSTON – Nothing says congratulations like a beer. Truth be told, there is nothing more satisfying than enjoying a couple ‘frosty mugs’ after a grueling two-hour long run. That doesn’t mean it’s going to improve my memory, or hydrate me any faster- it just feels good.

With the Boston Marathon just days away, it got me thinking about the relationship between athletes and beer.

These days, it seems like everyone is looking for a way to justify their beer consumption. I’ve read it all, from studies trying to link improved memory function with moderate alcohol consumption to beer actually being a better source of hydration than water. Heck, even the German brewery, Erdinger, is now marketing their non-alcoholic offering as a ‘sports and fitness drink.’

So beer is going to hydrate me better than water after running 26.2 miles? Give me a break!

Nowadays, post-marathon beer consumption is a relatively common practice. Run any of the 21 Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon series events across the U.S. and your reward for crossing the finish line is an ice cold MGD 64. Running the NY Marathon? Hope you are ready to ‘taste the rockies.’ If you plan on taking in the picturesque vantages of the Big Sur Marathon, get ready to wash down some Michelob Ultra when you’re finished.

That said, I’m not sure guzzling down a pint of 64-calorie, corn-extract water would be my first option after finishing the marathon. Which leaves me wondering why more race directors don’t target smaller craft breweries to sample their suds?

Sure sponsorship money plays a huge role, but if I am going to be paying over $100 dollars just to test the boundaries of my physical limits, don’t you think I should at least be rewarded with something that is actually palatable? And don’t get me started on supporting local businesses.

Let’s face it – regular participants in long distance events make more than the average American. In 2006, 76-percent of male long distance runners had an income of $75,000 or more. The average salary for a Runner’s World subscriber is in the six figures. So why the cheap beer?

I can’t imagine the only thing keeping the runners in this demographic striding towards the finish line is the thought of “fizzy yellow beer.” I for one would run much faster if I knew that even a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was awaiting my arrival.

At least runners in this year’s Boston Marathon have an iconic New England brand in Narragansett to look forward to when they finally are able to call themselves ‘finishers,” and to that I say cheers!

Editor Chris Furnari is a former cross country and track athlete at Santa Clara University and has competed in numerous long distance events. He recently qualified for the Boston Marathon after running 2:56 at the Silicon Valley Marathon in October of 2010.

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