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Stay Fit. Drink Beer.

With January in full swing, can we balance our love of beer with staying fit?

Gordon | 09 Jan 2019

Stay Fit. Drink Beer.

No-one wants to think that beer is unhealthy or bad for them. Sure, we all know that we should avoid drinking alcohol in large amounts or too frequently (especially after the festive period.)

We chatted with a few BeerBods regulars about their approach to drinking beer and staying healthy. We start with Paul Poole, mountaineer, guide and instructor. Next up we talk to Jen and Sim Benson, authors of Wild Running, endurance athletes and ambassadors for adventurous parenting. Finally, we catch up with Aleks Kashefi about his approach to beer running and his somewhat unusual beer race. Lace up your walking boots or running shoes, it’s time to see you all on the hills or trails, for a beer.


Paul Poole

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Who are you & what do you do?

I’d always enjoyed being in the open countryside on family walks, there was just something refreshing, challenging and invigorating about such a simple act especially with a large hound in tow or actually one dragging me along.

I kind of flunked college and spent a couple of years wandering before someone mentioned working in the mountains. After nearly 25 years of working full time in the Outdoor Industry, I have run my own mountaineering company based in North Wales for almost 10 years. I spend over 200 days of the year walking, climbing and scrambling in the mountains of Snowdonia, Skye, The Highlands, stunning locations like the High Atlas, Morocco in winter and the Greater Ranges of the Himalaya. It’s quite simple, I’m passionate about being in the mountains and just want to share this with folks. Every day is an adventure!

How do you manage to drink beer & stay fit?

I come from an era where big days in the mountains were rewarded by copious pints of ale and some tall stories in the smokey pub at the end of the day! These days I have to actively plan drinking beer around my work as I don’t generally have an ale on a work night, I often miss the Thursday night get togethers because of it, recently I was four weeks behind! I have the best job in the world... obviously, but it has a serious side to it at times and I’ve had to adapt over the years as funnily enough lots of beer and mountains just don’t mix. I’ve become more aware of how balancing things like diet, a decent night's sleep, stretching and fitness aid me in my job every day. Sometimes I might have to go several weeks without supping on the latest beer in the house, I actually love the fact that I can do this as it just makes that bottle or pint taste like nectar every time. Beer is my reward for a good job done.

What's your 'Desert Island beer' or beer style & where & when would you like to drink it?

A few years ago this would have been a ‘light ale’, these days having been challenged by BeerBods a number of times with beers that I would never have tried like Porters, Gose and Sours, I’ve become a little partial to a good Saison, perhaps Brew By Numbers 01 being a particular favourite.

Where is almost impossible to answer, I’ve been to so many amazing places whilst sharing beers with others, maybe somewhere in the mountains overlooking an ocean, two of the worlds greatest environments, how cool would that be?
Any memorable 'climbing beers’?
Too many! Any good climbers pub should have a decent local ale, but one I grew up on whilst ‘learning the ropes’ was Horndeans Special Bitter (HSB), boy did that pack some taste from the barrel!

You can find Paul at www.paulpoolemountaineering.co.uk Follow Paul on Instagram @ppmountaineering


Jen & Sim Benson

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Who are you & what do you do?

I'm Sim Benson, my wife Jen and I run, swim, cycle, climb and write adventure books. We both race everything from Parkrun to Ultra distance running and swimrun to Iron distance triathlons; when we're not racing we travel around the country with our two kids finding the coolest adventures and the most exciting places to stay, or we're at home busy training and writing.

How do you manage to drink beer & stay fit?

We both run and race, so when we're training hard and putting in a lot of miles we have to fit this around our children and work and it can get quite busy. We find that catching a bit of time together in the evening, sharing a nice beer and having a bit of relaxed time as a family has so many benefits that it's well worth the calories.

What's your 'Desert Island beer' or beer style & where & when would you like to drink it?

My current favourite beer is an organic oatmeal stout from Black Isle Brewery called Hibernator. It's strong and absolutely full of flavour; it would be a perfect beer to drink slowly next to a fire on a campsite after a long day running in the mountains.

Any memorable 'ultra running beers'?

I've never done a Beer Race but I hear there is a good one coming up at the Ludlow Spring festival; I'm tempted if we can manage to be in the right part of the country in May. Other than that I ran the Heineken Race to the Tower last year but that's not really Beerbods standard! I'm racing the Elite course at the OMM this year which is in the South West, we don't know where exactly yet but I'm guessing Dartmoor and if I'm right then I will be looking forward to a pint of Dartmoor Brewery's Jail Ale at the end.

You can find Jen and Sim at www.jenandsimbenson.co.uk Follow Sim and Jen on Twitter @jenandsim


Aleks Kashefi

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Who are you & what do you do?

Aleks Kashefi is the Founder of Beer Ultra and Co-Founder of Punk Rock Run Club. He describes himself as "An ordinary fella who has a tendency to wander off in search of adventure." Aleks started running in the summer of 2012 by using a couch to 5k app on his phone. In 2015 he ran from Land's End to John O'Groats. Barefoot. In the Autumn of 2016 he started running from Nordkapp in Arctic Norway and, 196 days later ran into Punta de Tarifa in Spain. A staggering distance of 3,846 miles.

How do you manage to drink beer & stay fit?

I manage to fit in drinking beer and staying fit by running more than I drink. I’m also picky about my beers, drinking beer for the taste and not the strength or to get drunk.

What's your 'Desert Island beer' or beer style & where & when would you like to drink it?

If I had the choice of just one beer to take on a Desert Island, I’d probably take some Trolltunga, which is a collaboration by Buxton Brewery and Lervig. A sour that isn’t shy of being SOUR! I think it's the only sour I've had that hasn’t been pissed about with after the first generation and is actually nice a sour. Buxton used to do an amazing raspberry sour but they started to make it less raspberry sour and more lactose heavy. Madness!

Any memorable 'running beers’?

My most memorable running beer is the bottle of Punk IPA I carried on my first ever ultra and opened just before the finish so I ran over the finish line drinking a cool beer.

Follow Aleks on Instagram @barefootaleks


The Beer Ultra

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This curious 50km 'race' is the brainchild of Aleks, along with Guillame Arthus and Andy Nutall. It was only a matter of time before ultra-runners would put their mark on the beer mile.

The Beer Ultra is what happens when ultra-running gets mixed up with a beer mile. You would think that a 50km race involving beer drinking would take the same approach as the beer mile, choosing an easy route that is like running on a track, but you would be wrong. The Beer ultra involves running two different 5km loops, each having anywhere between 500 to 900ft of ascent, varied, technical terrain and the obligatory beer at the start of each loop (as well as a beer at the finish line). This year's winner, Stephen Mitchell, completed the tough 50km course in 6:38hrs and eleven beers. The first female, Lucinda Stone, finished in 9:11hrs. Out of the 30 people who put their toes on the start line, eight either DNF’d (Did Not Finish) or were timed out. Fastest time to drink a beer was in just six seconds, Martin Slack - in the Captain America top with the fastest female closely behind Kate Jayden - in the pink vest (both pictured).

Yup, this is a tough race but a race that is probably the best race in the world, according to Aleks. "But the race doesn't focus on winners. I think we cheered harder for the last place than the first." Maybe that's the beer.

Find out more about the Beer Ultra over on Facebook


This article originally featured in our Summer 2018 journal.

Photography credits: Paul Poole, Jen and Sim Benson and Aleks Kashefi