A few years ago, Ray Goodrich was asked to be a judge for Sweetwater Brewery’s “Brew Your Cask Off” competition.
Great gig, right? The only problem: He was scheduled to run a marathon the very next day. He was conflicted about what to do.
“My head said no,” he said. “My heart said yes.”
In the end, he opted for both.
“At about mile 20 I was questioning my sanity,” he said. But it also symbolized “the ultimate confluence of my beer and running passions,” as he put it.
Today, the Foothills Brewing director of marketing & communications has run a total of 15 marathons and half marathons, made pilgrimages to Belgium and learned how to balance beer and running. The North Carolina-based Goodrich talked about his post PR-beers, his goals and his advice for beer runners in this Q+A.
What are your beer runner credentials?
I’ve been into craft beer almost as long as I’ve been into beer. Thanks to a career spent mostly in sports television, I’ve been to all but three US states. That’s afforded a great opportunity to sample craft beer and watch the industry grow. As for running, I came to that fairly late in life. While a TV producer, I wrote and directed a feature on a college basketball player who had leukemia; he passed away about 6 months after that. I wanted to do something in his memory, so I signed up for a half-marathon with Team in Training, knowing the money would go to leukemia research. Since then I’ve run 7 full marathons and 8 halfs, all for charities.
What’s been your biggest accomplishment to date?
Running 2 marathons in one week. In 2006 I ran the Chicago and Marine Corps Marathons back-to-back; finished the second one 11 minutes faster than I finished the first one. I was part of a group that raised close to $250,000 for the Leukemia Society. I also mentored a group of first-time marathoners for Chicago, which made the week even more special.
What’s your go-to beer after a long run?
OK, full disclosure? I work for a beer company that brews hoppy beers, and I haven’t traditionally been a hoppy beer guy. But since coming to Foothills, Jade IPA has become my go-to post-run beer. The New Zealand Pacific Jade hops have all kinds of tropical fruit notes, with an almost peppery finish. It’s a very unique beer, surprisingly refreshing for its high IBU, and tastes great after a long run.
Do you have a go-to beer after a PR or big accomplishment?
I think for a lot craft beer guys, me included, there’s a certain mystique to out-of-market beers. I try to keep a couple of favorites on hand; Big Sky’s Moose Drool and anything Wachusetts or Paper City make. Also, I just moved to North Carolina from Florida; a collection of Cigar City beers just may have come with me. Having said all that, our president/brewmaster Jamie Bartholomaus has a personal stash of Bourbon Barrel Aged Sexual Chocolate, a bottle of which will go to the top of the list if I can ever talk him into parting with one.
How did that feel to judge “Brew Your Cask Off” then run the Georgia Marathon the next day?
Looking back? Awesome. At the time? Dubious. I’d trained for months, and two days before the race I got asked to judge the event. In the end I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be a part of a premiere event at one of the South’s iconic craft breweries. The judging part was great! Not surprisingly, though, didn’t log a PR the next day.
What’s your favorite place for running?
As a rule, nothing beats a long run on the beach. Any beach. But I’ve traveled so much that my favorite place for running is usually anywhere new. There’s something about experiencing a place on foot that connects you to it and creates lasting memories. I’ve done memorable sporting events in Boston, for example, games at Fenway and the NBA Playoffs; but one of my fondest memories there is a 17-mile training run I did along the St. Charles River.
How about for beer?
Like a lot of beer lovers, Belgium is kind of my beer mecca. I’ve been to four of the six Trappist breweries there. Domestically, Foothills Pub has quickly become my favorite place for beer, as much for the incredible people I work with as for the beer.
What are your future goals?
My main goal at Foothills is to try and help continue to activate the brands here. Foothills is already well-known and admired in North Carolina, and growing exponentially; we just started wholesale distribution in January. I grew up surfing in Florida, and from a marketing standpoint it feels like I just dropped in on a huge wave. My running goal is simple – keep going. And keep helping charities through running. There will always be causes that can use championing.
What advice do you have for other beer runners?
Don’t judge a beer event the day before a marathon. Seriously, balance is obviously key for beer runners. The reward of a post-run beer is gratifying, even motivating; but no amount of exercise will compensate for overindulgence. Also, find a charity that can benefit from your running. Being in shape is great, but doing something for those who can’t has gotten me out the door for a long training run more than once
Anything else to add?
I’m new to the craft beer community in North Carolina. It’s impressive, in that it really is a community. Passion for great beer creates as much unity as it does competition here. With 75 breweries in the state, and more on the way, it bodes well for North Carolina to continue to develop as an east coast center for craft beer.