I love beer and I have also been known to partake in the "occasional" bout of pavement pounding in an attempt to keep fit. The question is, what would happen if I combined the two? On Saturday passed, I found out...
MRC? I had heard of the term before. It stands for Mikkeller Running Club and whilst I knew that there was a Belfast Chapter, I was a bit confused about exactly what it is that they did?
Drinking beer is one thing and I get that, but a club that runs and drinks beer? Something didn't sound quite right about that in my mind. Usually after a run my mouth is so dry that I'm spitting cotton and whilst liquid of most varieties will be gratefully welcomed, a glass of beer would tend to feature somewhere further down the list.
Curiosity got the better of me however and following a FB post that I published back in early August (https://www.facebook.com/ohbeernetwork/posts/337094516746283) and a suggestion to try out MRC, my interest was piqued. The date for September's Running Meet had been set for Saturday 9th and the countdown was on.
It was quick to come around and on a Sunny Saturday morning I boarded the train at Bangor and set off for Belfast eta 11:30 at The Woodworkers bar. Everything was great except for the sky, which seemed to be darkening by the minute. Leaving the clear blue horizon behind, the train slid along towards the Big Smoke. Belfast was beginning to take form ahead but with the darkening clouds above, it was beginning to resemble something closer to 'Mordor' but on a bad day. I had packed my towel hadn't I?
Pulling up to Belfast Botanic Train station a little bit later than planned, I ran round the corner to the meeting point at Woodworkers, no longer so bothered that the rain was beginning to make my t-shirt stick to my torso and my trainers were now squelching in rhythm to each hurried step.
After a quick meet and greet with the rest of the group, we were off and the first stop was The American bar on Dock Street - approximately a distance of 2.7km. It was a pleasant and invigorating jaunt across the city and along the river. By the time we hit the bar itself the rain had thankfully subsided and we were all ready for a refreshment - Beer Anyone?
Not long after sitting down something had become abundantly clear and there was need for concern. Due to my lack of experience, I had made a very Amateur mistake indeed... My Beer Choice!
Whilst the brew itself was fantastic (Lacada Brewery's East the Beast), the serving was vast. A full pint instead of a half would ensure a big disadvantage come the second leg of our run!
We relaxed for a while and took in the laid back atmosphere and ambiance of the small Sailor Town Bar but before too long drinks were finished and it was time to begin the next leg of our run. Onwards now to one of the true gems of Belfast's Beer Drinking scene - The Sunflower Pub.
We all started up again at a re-energised pace and we were soon taking in the sights and sounds of the city. My pint of beer and large water chaser had now formed an intimate alliance in my belly and were soon asserting their authority as I 'fast waddled' my way along sounding like a washing machine. Jogging with a belly full of beer isn't ideal I can assure you, imagine trying to play hopscotch whilst holding a fish bowl and you'll get the idea. How long to the Sunflower I wondered, as we ran round the first corner.
Thankfully it wasn't too far and after an entertaining 1.3km we had arrived at the famous caged entrance of the Pub. It was time for another brew and mine's a half pint this time!
After a freshly pulled glass of Kinnegar's Rustbucket I soon got my mojo back and the beer put a satisfied smile on my face. One more run to go and it was just the few km home stretch back to our original destination of the Woodworkers. This was a proper urban scamper right through the heart of the city centre, side stepping pedestrians, racing green men and sliding over car bonnets. Ok so I lied about the car bonnets but it was good craic none the less.
Before long we had arrived and the Woodworkers door was in reach. We had completed a total of around 7km (I think) and following a group photo there was just one sensible thing remaining to do... go to the bar 🍻
This particular meeting of MRC was a hoot along with a nice bit of exercise. I feel obliged to put your minds at ease and state that as this was actually the Belfast Chapter's 2nd Anniversary Run, things were a bit different than the norm.
I've been assured that usual proceedings see a 5km run followed then by beers at the Woodworkers. Essentially, the "pub crawl" on this occasion was purely for celebratory reasons.
Belfast MRC meets on the first Saturday of every month at 11:30am at The Woodworkers Bar on Bradbury Place and finishes there with a complimentary half pint of beer as well. All new members are warmly welcomed (as I was) and you can be sure that along with a good workout you can expect to enjoy a refreshing beer afterwards - now does 'The Park Run' offer that?
If you want to get involved then you can find the FB page for the Belfast Chapter here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MRCBelfast/
If you don't live local but want to find the nearest Chapter to you, then check out the official website here: http://mikkellerrunningclub.dk/chapters/
My suggestion would be, get involved.
With a motto that states, "The running is important, but the beer is just as important", let's be honest, you can't really go wrong.
See you next month,
* As a final note I just wanted to say a big thank you to Stephen Kelly who does a fantastic job of organising the Belfast MRC each month and for welcoming me to the group last weekend. Thanks also goes to The Woodworkers Bar who support the club each month and finally to James for letting me use some of his photos in the article above.
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