The Gettysburg Beer Runners are up and running, and Mark Purdy couldn’t be happier.
Purdy founded the local running group eight years ago, bringing together friends and fellow running enthusiasts who shared a desire to come together once a week, get in a few miles on the pavement and then share a beer afterward. The group continued to grow in popularity, reaching 351 consecutive full-group weekly runs without interruption.
Until March of 2020.
The onset of the COVID pandemic forced the group to cancel for what it hoped would be for a brief period. That hiatus lasted 15 months, but as of last Wednesday, the Beer Runners are back on track.
“It was great to get started again,” said Purdy. “When we had to shut it down, we thought maybe in a month or two we would be up and going again. It ended up being a lot longer than that. We did what we could to keep people together.”
Purdy took to social media to keep his fellow Beer Runners informed during the shutdown, emailing a newsletter each Sunday evening. He included photos of past runs and current runs by smaller groups who were encouraged to share their experiences. A number of small groups celebrated the 400th Beer Runners run back in Frebruary.
The desire to remain connected, even while not being able to come together for their weekly runs, was felt throughout the group.
“The people really embraced that,” Purdy said. “People were doing things like a scavenger hunt where they would take a picture at a location, post it and then see who can find it and pass it along from there. We would get with our smaller group on Wednesdays and post pictures. The whole Beer Runners thing is a shared experience.”
With restrictions easing as spring turns to summer, Purdy decided it was time to get the gang back together.
“Things were going the right way and it was the eighth anniversary of our first run, so we said let’s try to get it started and keep it going while marking an anniversary at the same time,” he said.
He reached out to local establishments Fourscore Beer. Co. and Appalachian Brewing Company. Fourscore held sentimental significance as Tommy’s Pizza, established by the Leedy family, hosted the first Beer Runners event eight years ago.
“I set it up with Wade and Drew (Leedy), it was the perfect option and it all came together,” said Purdy. “It’s in town and a place that’s big enough and that everybody really liked. It could not have gone any better.”
Last Wednesday’s turnout included nearly 100 people, who were split into two groups. Gettysburg Beer Runners welcomes runners of all abilities, from those who cover the designated course quickly to those who opt to walk. Purdy alerts members as to the designated course and meeting place prior to gathering on Wednesday evenings for the run.
“If you come out you’ll feel like you fit in right away,” Purdy said. “Someone else is going your speed whether you are running or walking. You go get some exercise, have a beer and you’ll be home in two hours. We’ve been doing it the same way for eight years and it’s worked out great.
“There are a lot of friendships that develop through it, you have comradery and a connection with people. You miss it when you don’t have it. It’s great talking to them but nothing like being with them and spending that time together.”
The Beer Runners stop this Wednesday will be at Thirsty Farmer Brew Works located just outside of Arendtsville. Anyone interested in joining can find more information at gettysburgbeerrunners.com or on the group’s Facebook page.