A runner in a previous Cascade Relays race. Courtesy photo

Can You Master This New Beer Relay Race?


If the beer at the end of the Bolder Boulder is your favorite part of the race, this event’s for you.

The Boulder Beer Chase is a “fun run” new to the area this year, and despite its name, it doesn’t make you pick between your favorite breweries in Boulder or Fort Collins. It’s a relay race stretching about 55 miles between a brewery in Fort Collins and a brewery in Boulder, with stops at breweries along the way.

The event is non-competitive and untimed. Walk or run. Dress like a dinosaur or wear a mullet wig, or not.

A runner in a previous Cascade Relays race. Courtesy photo

Drink or don’t. (But really, who’s doing a beer run without at least a taste?) Event organizers say participants tend to fall in one of the following categories: “beer drinkers that occasionally run, beer drinkers that run a lot and runners that drink a lot of beer.” That just about covers all of Boulder.

Here’s how it goes down: On June 15, teams of six shift off on 12 different legs on the map. The legs vary between three and six miles long and have varying difficulty levels. Each leg includes an opportunity to drink beer. The “exchanges,” as the stops are called, include a 3- to 4-ounce beer sample.

The Boulder Beer Chase map. Courtesy photo

So in a sense, it’s like running the Bolder Boulder multiple different times across an entire day and night or however long it takes your crew to tackle the challenge (until the time’s up, at least). While one person runs, walks, wogs, dances or skidaddles between breweries, the others follow along in a van (headed by a sober designated driver), cheering them on, napping or refueling. Ideally, each person tackles two legs.

Note: You don’t need six people to make a team; that’s just the max.

The course starts at Odell Brewing in Fort Collins and goes through Loveland, Berthoud, Longmont and Niwot, finishing at Boulder Beer Company. A few exchanges are at non-breweries (i.e. churches), but local breweries will set up shop there to keep the party going. It’s an open-road race, meaning the roads won’t be closed.

Registration is limited to 100 teams.

A runner in a previous Cascade Relays race. Photo by Thomas and Velo Photography

The Boulder Beer Chase is new to town but not a new concept. It’s organized by Cascade Relays, which offers beer runs in other states.

The idea began in the back of a van at 3 a.m.

Founders were running the Bourbon Chase overnight relay in Kentucky in 2013. After choking down a shot of Wild Turkey, founder Scott Douglass decided a cold beer would be a much better fit after a long run. The first beer run was along the Bend Ale Trail in Oregon. There is also a relay in San Diego.

A runner in a previous Cascade Relays race. Courtesy photo

The local race director has a strong background in running. Erik Zeitlow is an assistant high school cross country coach at Green Mountain High School and has run more than 70 long-distance races, from marathons on all seven continents to 100ks. He’s also done more than 30 overnight relays.

Runners in a previous Cascade Relays race. Courtesy photo

Here’s a quick look at the 12 legs of the Boulder Beer Chase:

Leg 1: 3.32 miles, easy, from Odell Brewing in Fort Collins through the Oval on the Colorado State University campus to Black Bottle Brewery in Fort Collins.

Leg 2: 3.35 miles, easy, along the Mason Trail, from Black Bottle to Zwei Brewing in Fort Collins.

Leg 3: 6.23 miles, hard, from Zwei along a new bike path to Crossroads Church in Loveland. Here, 10 Barrel will serve up drinks.

Leg 4: 4.07 miles, easy, from Crossroads past Lake Loveland to the Big Thompson Brewery in Loveland, home of mascot Hops the Cat.

Leg 5: 4.96 miles, moderate (up one of the only real hills on the course), from the Big T Brewery to the Loveland Church of Christ.

Leg 6: 4.09 miles, easy along a gentle downhill route, from the Church or Christ to City Star Brewing in Berthoud.

Leg 7: 5.58 miles, moderate, from City Star along back dirt roads to the Coors Grain, which stores 1.5 million tons of locally grown barley.

Leg 8: 4.2 miles, easy, from the Coors Grain to Fox Creek in Longmont. Here, Oskar Blues will hand out its special “craft beer in a cans.”

Leg 9: 5 miles, moderate, from Fox Creek along the St. Vrain Creek bike path to Left Hand Brewing in Longmont.

Leg 10: 6.11 miles, hard, from Left Hand to Bootstrap Brewing in Niwot along the LoBo (Longmont to Boulder) trail system.

Leg 11: 4.65 miles, moderate, from Bootstrap along the LoBo trail, past the Boulder Country Club and to neighboring breweries Avery Brewing and Asher Brewing in Boulder.

Leg 12: 5.13 miles, moderate, from Avery/Asher to Boulder Beer.

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