I met Win Bassett at the Great American Beer Fest, where we did the Irish Snug Run 5K and he helped pace my 30 mile run. I sort of think he’s the North Carolina version of me, except he’s faster and knows more about beer. Learn about the evolution of a teetotaler-turned-beer runner in this Q+A.
What are your beer runner credentials?
I run for Team Raleigh Running Outfitters/ FASTcoaching, which is sponsored by a local running store and coaching academy in Raleigh, NC. I also founded the Big Boss Run Club with a few friends this past summer at Big Boss Brewing Co. We currently run from Bottle Revolution, a bottle shop in Raleigh, during the darker, winter months due to better lighting.
It’s often that I run up to three beer runs a week–the nOg Run Club from Tir-na-nog Irish Pub in downtown Raleigh on Mondays, the Big Boss Run Club on Tuesdays, and the Fullsteam Ahead! Run Club from Fullsteam Brewery in Durham on Wednesdays.
How did you get into craft beer?
I never had a sip of alcohol before I turned 21 due to oldest brother syndrome, not disappointing my parents, and rebelling against the notion that it was cool to drink in high school. I was the rebel because I didn’t bong Natty Light after football games on Friday nights! On my twenty-first birthday, I went to Angus Barn in Raleigh for dinner, where I had my first glass of wine. Afterward, I went to Mitch’s Tavern, which is the bar from the movie Bull Durham. A friend bought me a bottle of Bud heavy. I drank one sip and thought it was gross. I could not figure out how people actually enjoyed drinking beer. I took a few more sips to assure myself that I did not like it. For the rest of school, I stuck to wine and bourbon and ginger.
During my first year of law school, however, I went with some friends to Tyler’s Taproom in Carrboro, NC, to play trivia. Someone bought me a Rogue Dead Guy, and I took a sip to avoid being rude. My life changed forever. It tasted nothing like the stuff that came from that bottle on my twenty-first birthday. We played trivia at Tyler’s
regularly for several months that year, and I always ordered a Dead Guy.
How did you get into running, your local running group and coaching?
I was never an athlete growing up. I played soccer in high school but kept the bench pretty warm. I didn’t exercise a single time throughout my undergrad years and most of law school. I started running during my last year of law school to relieve stress, and I never stopped. I ran a race–5ks, 8ks and 10ks–almost every weekend during the summer that I was studying for the bar exam. My running plateaued for about a year and a half until I started training with Team Raleigh Running Outfitters/FASTcoaching and running with folks at various beer runs. Not only did my times drop significantly after I started to run with other people, but my form improved immensely.
What are your favorite NC running spots?
I love hills, so I enjoy running the Turkey Creek Trail in Umstead State Park with my team. I also like running on the American Tobacco Trail from the Durham Bulls Stadium in Durham with a fellow beer enthusiast and runner. We always end up talking about beer the entire time, and the run flies by.
And favorite NC beers?
My tastes change according to the season, time of a day, and the weather. I also don’t want to play favorites! Lately, during the winter months in NC, I’ve enjoyed Foothills’ Jade, Bull City’s “Goat” Bullock Bock, Fullsteam’s First Frost, Big Boss’ Aces & Ates, Mother Earth’s Silent Night and NoDa’s NoDaRyeZ’ed.
Do you have a favorite race that serves beer?
I’ve done races that serve beer at the finish, but my favorite race this year didn’t serve beer but ended in Beer City, USA. I ran the Blue Ridge Relay, a 208-mile relay race from Grayson Highlands, VA to Asheville, NC in September. After my first leg, I had a Foothills Oktoberfest at the little pub we stopped at to grab a quick bite to eat. I was the anchor man, so I crossed the finished line in downtown Asheville after a little over 29 hours of running tough terrain and sleeping and eating in a van. My team replenished our glycogen stores at Lexington Avenue Brewery, and two friends and I stayed for an extra day to visit Bruisin’ Ales bottle shop and to enjoy beers at Thirsty Monk, Wedge, and Pisgah.
What are your proudest beer and running accomplishments?
My proudest running accomplishment was coming in 19/700 in my first running of The Bear, a 5-mile race up Grandfather Mountain in Linville, NC. The course climbs 1,541 feet and ends at the “Mile-High” swinging bridge. I celebrated with a Corne Du Diable IPA from Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel that I bought beforehand at Peabody’s in Boone, NC.
What are your goals for 2012?
I have two beer running-related goals for the new year. The main one is to continue this lifestyle of staying healthy while enjoying the hard work, innovation and passion of the world’s craft brewers. My second goal is to succeed in getting more people to start running and enjoying a well-deserved beer afterward. Most folks don’t realize that you don’t have to be an elite runner to have fun with beer run clubs. You can be a 20-minute miler or a 5-minute miler. There is a place for everyone. Just come out, get your feet moving, meet other people and enjoy a beer. Before you know it, you’ll be a beer runner and healthier for it!
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to add that one of my most memorable runs of the year was running with The Beer Runner at GABF in Washington Park in Denver, CO, as he set out to hit 30 miles on his 30th birthday. I’d also like to note that the beer and running communities have a lot in common. Specifically, the people in each are extremely friendly, supportive and will do anything in their power to help you and to see you succeed. When you combine the two, you get the best of both worlds! Thank you to everyone in the running, beer and beer running communities for an amazing 2011. I’m looking forward to an even better 2012 that is filled with incredible runs, good beer, and the best people with which to enjoy both!