What do you get when you cross a beer festival with a fun run? The Penticton Beer Run!
Organized by Hoodoo Adventures, The Penticton Beer Run returns for its second year on Saturday, June 2. The BC Ale Trail is a proud co-sponsor of this event which features all five of the Penticton Ale Trail breweries, plus a bonus brewery from the nearby community of Oliver.
Mike and Lyndie Hill started Hoodoo Adventures 11 years ago with the goal of celebrating the exceptional natural beauty of the South Okanagan, while promoting a healthy lifestyle. Based in Penticton, the company quickly became the driving force behind adventure tourism in the region, offering a wide variety of events and programs featuring everything from kayaking and rock climbing to snowshoeing and survivalism.
“Adventure is right out your back door, it’s so accessible here,” Mike says of living in Penticton. “We are very passionate about the Okanagan and we’re on a mission to let the world know this can be the adventure capital of BC, if not Canada.”
Originally from New Zealand, Mike met Lyndie while she was working in the adventure tourism industry there. Her British Columbian roots eventually led to their moving to Penticton with the goal of starting a business along with a family. According to Mike, a shared love of adventure wasn’t the only thing they brought with them to Penticton.
“We love craft beer! I’ve always loved craft beer, even when I was young I always drifted towards unique beers. I saw the explosion of craft beer across New Zealand. Moving here I wondered where the beer culture was but it came… it started at first in dribs and drabs but then it really went off!”
Inspired by the rising popularity of craft beer, the couple began brainstorming ideas for an event that could merge their mutual love of beer and adventure. There were some promising leads, but they just hadn’t settled on something that they felt would showcase what the region had to offer while remaining lighthearted and accessible. Mike laughs recalling their brainstorming session last year, “Lyndie literally sat up and said ‘Beer Run!’ As we talked it over we realized there’s the KVR, the hop farm, and it all just fell into place.”
The breweries were immediately supportive of the idea, as was the Ramada Hotel, home of the the Kettle Valley Station Pub, which became the run’s title sponsor. The members of the local craft beer community offered support and collaboration, in particular Mike expressed appreciation for the guidance Kim Lawton offered from her wealth of experience in both craft beer and event organization. Amazingly, it only took six weeks from conception to race day, with advertising being mainly through word of mouth and social media.
“We knew we were on to something last year,” said Mike, “We had 125 runners sign up, which was fantastic. There were a few challenges… testing the course and figuring out the timing, figuring out the parking and the shuttle. There was some anxiety going into it, but we’ve done enough events that we know if it looks like there are no issues that’s the time to start worrying.”
Mike and Lyndie used what they learned from last year to increase the 2018 Beer Run to a capacity of up to 350 runners, already over 200 have registered. Their motivation springs from a genuine love of the region and a desire to benefit the community, including those most vulnerable. All of the net proceeds from the Beer Run will go to the Youth Outdoor Recreation Society, a local non-profit that teaches at-risk youth outdoor lifeskills where they learn the principles of leadership, respect and survival.
“We do events in the shoulder season to keep our staff busy and keep the team sharp. We also want to show off how nice it is here in the early season and support the hospitality industry. With all of our events once we’ve covered our costs, anything that’s left over, we give it away,” Mike explained. “We don’t want this to be a boozefest, we want to show off a healthy lifestyle and healthy options. This is about people getting a taste of the beer, help them find their favourite that they will go back to the brewery for. People can come for the weekend, maybe get out for a bike ride or a kayak, come and enjoy the community.”
This year’s run has also grown in regards to participating sponsors featuring local businesses at pop-up stations offering food, water, and even haircuts. Runners can “get buzzed” for charity by Jimmy “The Barber” Slimz. For a $2 donation you get a buzz cut and Jimmy makes a matching donation.
“We want to give a special thank you to the BC Ale Trail for taking us under their wing,” said Mike, “As soon as they came on board as a co-hosting sponsor the interest on our Facebook event went from 37 up to 1000 people.” Other major sponsors include the Ramada Hotel, (offering reduced rates for weekend packages) and Clancy’s Liquor Store.
Mike gave us a preview of the race, starting at Square One Hop Growers where runners will be greeted by beautiful views of Penticton and Okanagan Lake. Firehall Brewery was the natural partner for this location, as they use Square One hops in many of their brews. From here runners follow the KVR trail through orchards and vineyards, stopping at a pop-up featuring Papa John’s, Penticton’s newest pizza joint, for a snack size slice and some water. The trail leads down Vancouver Hill to the next stop at Cannery Brewing on Ellis, then loops along the creek to Barley Mill Brew Pub’s tasting station at the Hoodoo Headquarters and a small offering of “low n slow” southern style BBQ from Smugglers Smokehouse.
To get to the next stop at Bad Tattoo Brewing the route heads towards Okanagan Lake, passing the Lakeside Resort and the famous Penticton Peach along the way. Runners will then travel along the lakeshore to Patio Burger to snack on some fries accompanied with beer from Tin Whistle Brewing’s pop-up tasting station. Continuing along the lakeshore towards the historic SS Sicamous, the route then takes runners over the River Channel dam and south along the riverside trail. At the highway runners cross the bridge, passing in front of the Ramada Inn to get to the final tasting at Highway 97 Brewing, Penticton’s newest craft brewery.
From Highway 97 it’s just a short jaunt across the back alley and into the beautiful Ramada garden to cross the finish line outside of the Kettle Valley Station Pub where runners will receive their complementary, celebratory beer – full size this time! The after party will be held from 12-3pm with prize announcements and meal features from the pub and entertainment from Aces Wyld, a country rock band from Saskatchewan.
“It’s not a race, run it if you want, walk it if you want. We will acknowledge the first person across the finish line, but there will also be prizes for things like Best Costumes, and Best Attitude.” Mike laughs, “we also hand out one for the last people to finish, or Most Value for the Money.” Not content to sit on the sidelines serving, breweries also enter in their own running teams and compete for a prized cup (donated by John from Highway 97, who also operates a printing and promotions company) awarded to the team with the best attitude. Last year this went to Cannery Brewing’s Canwerunnery Team.
In the end, it all comes back to the beer. “We’re spoiled to have so many quality brewers here making quality brews,” Mike says, “we want this to be a landmark destination event that highlights Penticton in the springtime, showcasing a healthy lifestyle that merges activity, family, fun with friends, great weather, and incredible beer. We want this event to be on people’s calendars, all across BC.”
Registration for the Beer Run remains open until the end of May. Weekend accommodation packages are also available. For more information visit www.pentictonbeerrun.ca.