If you’re a brewer, it makes good business sense to have friends in the running community. The now global phenomenon known as the Mikeller Run Club sees an estimated 12,000 runners in cities across the globe gather on the first Saturday of each month for a crew run and a pint. Even the beer mile event has now yielded its first athlete sponsored by a mainstream athletic brand.
It makes sense that it’s in a Toronto brewpub packed with runners that I first meet John Peat, runner and founder and brewmaster at Longslice Brewery. Many, John included, had just finished participating in the annual Founders Classic Beer Mile hosted by RunTOBeer.
It’s John’s first crack at the event that brings together his two passions, but both became firmly rooted in his teens.
John explains, “I grew up in Muskoka in a very rural area, so if I missed the bus, I’d have to wait a few hours before my dad could come pick me up.” In the intermittent time, John would wander over to a nearby winery, the owner of which informed him that he could technically purchase anything in the shop because it wasn’t yet alcohol. Because John’s father had been an avid homebrewer, he had access to all the necessary equipment.
John began running on August 14, 2003, the day of the legendary Northeast blackout. “I was a bigger kid growing up and I just got tired of that, so I went running,” John relates. It was a surprisingly pleasant experience. John recalls, “After the first kilometre, I really loved it and went on to run track and cross country throughout high school.”
Running followed John overseas to Korea, where he worked as an English teacher following graduation. Living along the Han River, John had a path he “could follow forever.”
When Longslice took off, John admits that running took an unfortunate backseat. Having a similar revelation as the one in his teens, John decided last winter that he would not only start running again, but recruit coworkers and family members, many of whom will join him as he races the GoodLife Half Marathon in Toronto this May.
Of the journey back, John says he’s learned that, “Getting back in shape is incredibly hard and I honestly consider that to be my biggest accomplishment.” It’s hard enough to start running, but perhaps more gruelling to start, then stop, and have to work your way back knowing how far you’ve fallen. Right now, John’s focus is less on personal bests and more on fitness and continuing to enjoy running.
John says he can’t quite put his finger on why there seems to be such a prevalence of beer lovers among runners, but is pleased that the connections between the craft beer industry and local run crews have offered a social element to what newcomers may initially consider a very solitary pursuit.
John points specifically to his brother, roommate, and business partner Jimmy, who, “never liked running, but I think the beer connection helped him a little bit.” It was in fact Jimmy who first connected with RunTOBeer, encouraging John to follow.
Currently, Longslice operates as a contract brewer, renting out equipment from Common Good Brewery in Scarborough, but are expected to have their own space by the end of summer.
“One thing I’m excited for is that the location on the Front Street promenade is right along the Don Valley Trail,” John exclaims, referencing one of Toronto’s most trafficked running and cycling trails. For John, the location means not just easy access to the trails on his lunch breaks, but the opportunity for lots of running events. Should a beer mile be among those events, John pledges to opt for short cans this time around as opposed to bottles on order to save himself time and an easier flow.