In college, Marc Hodulich could crank out a 4:15 mile as a track athlete at Auburn University. But his friends were more impressed with his 7-minute beer mile.
“I looked forward to the annual beer mile at the end of every track season,” he said.
Today he has transformed that hobby into BeerFit, a growing industry of beer and running events that have spread across the country.
Hodulich started his career in finance and management consulting in New York for nearly a decade. Then after he started producing events in New York, the idea of the beer mile as a large-scale event rather than a niche sport appealed to him. He also wanted to offer something that was officially sanctioned with partners and permits, rather than sneaking onto school tracks.
After moving to Atlanta, he approached a favorite local brewery, Monday Night Brewing, and proposed a partnership to test the format of the Brew Mile. It immediately had success and he began rapid expansion.
The Brew Mile is a slight alteration of the beer mile rules, which traditionally call for running on an official track. But instead of drinking one beer per lap, the Brew Mile is a point-to-point race that offers beer stops along the way, and then finishing with an afterparty.
Participants often dress up in costumes and compete in teams. Hodulich’s advice: “Don’t take yourself too seriously.”
Hodulich’s team tested all types of beer throughout the events in 2014 and 2015. They found that it was best to offer some sort of light beer on the course, with a more refined craft beer at the finish. They’ve partnered with Pabst, Sixpoint, St. Arnold’s, and Cigar City, to name a few.
“I love seeing people try something new and then celebrate their achievements with the best liquid on earth, beer,” Hodulich said. “The highlight has certainly been seeing an idea come to life and create so many memories for runners and beer drinkers alike.”
Hodulich still runs himself and considers himself a bit of a beer snob. In the fall and winter his favorite beers are Ommegang Rare Vos and Monday Night Brewing Blind Pirate Blood Orange. In the summer, his go-to beer is a 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon at the beach.
After expanding to 10 cities in 2015, the Brew Mile plans on adding more than 30 new locations in 2016, including their foray into the West Coast. It’s also expanding its distances. The new BeerFit 5k Classic offers a chip-timed 5k that ends with an open bar afterparty.
“We really want to celebrate fitness first by toasting each effort with beer,” Hodulich said. “Other than family life, I’m most proud of creating events that promote fitness, fun and memories.”