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Beer. Run. Repeat.

The weather was fine for our birthday merriment, which combined all the things we love the most: running, drinking beer, and talking about running and drinking beer.

Based out of our spiritual home of Mickelham Village Hall, the day kicked off with the running of the Beer 21. The running part comprised seven three-mile loops around Mickleham Downs on beautiful trails with an elevation gain of 720ft for each loop. The drinking part involved glasses of Heineken — one at the start of the race and one at the end of each loop. Throw in (not up hopefully) a kebab at the end, plus another beer, and that's your race done: 21 miles, 9 beers and 1 kebab.

Race supplies. None of your crisps and jelly babies here.

The weather was brilliant, if a little warm, as was some of the beer as we desperately tried to chill the beers down in the chronically overworked fridge in the village hall. We had runners groups from as far off as Coventry and Leigh on Sea making trip especially for the chance to run and drink beer.

After a short briefing, the runners gathered outside for the start. With the gun fired, and the runners raced the 20 yards to the beer table to drink their first glass.

Right from the start, it was apparent some runners were taking this more seriously than others, with the first few runners downing their beer in one and heading out on their first loop before others were even at the table.

And so began the rhythm of the race, as some raced to win others just wanted to avoid ending up in a ditch by the side of the road.

The 3-mile looped course was by no means easy. The first half involved nonstop climbing on tracks and overgrown footpaths, whereas the second half included a technical section along a mountain bike track and then a steep descent back into Mickleham village.

The inclusion of an inflatable canary as the only mandatory kit certainly gave the locals a few confused looks but added to the fun. Most people seemed to have bought their canaries from the same source, which probably caused much confusion in the Norwich City FC merchandising department, which saw an unexpected run on their inflatable products during the preceding week.

Chris, the Rhino Guy, provided a touch of the bizarre (just in case a pack of inflatable canary-wielding runners wasn't bizarre enough) as he charged around the course in his outfit.

The miles ticked by, and the beer flowed as the sun beat down on the increasingly slightly intoxicated runners. Luckily, much of the course was under tree cover, which provided some protection from the seldom-seen ball of fire in the sky.

The race leader, Andrew Harrower was tearing up the course and arrived for his eighth beer before heading into the hall for the dreaded kebab. The trick was copious amounts of garlic sauce to help it down before the final beer and claiming the win with a time of 3:10:10.

The runners were coming in thick and fast, and the kebab supply team was under pressure but coped admirably. They even got vegan and gluten-free options into the right hands. All of it went down well and, thankfully, stayed there.

All in all it was a great day and the feedback was fantastic. Planning now starts for next years race.



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