Race report: David Hellard reports from the 2013 'Beat the Barrel' - Brupond Brewery, Hackney Marshes, February 9, 2013
The Inaugural Beat the Barrel took place on a cold, damp morning in East London. It's a relay race run with an 18 pint barrel of beer. Teams can be 2-5 people, but for each person in the team the barrel has to travel a 5k lap of the marshes. You can run individually or as a team, as long as everyone in the team completes at least one lap. The first team to finish with an empty barrel wins.
Twenty six teams lined up in Brupond Brewey and from the off it was immediately obvious that each team was employing a very different set of tactics. Four teams started running straight away, with 'Operation Wogan 2.0' setting the pace, putting in an impressive 22 minute first lap, carrying the barrel in a rucksack. The majority of the other teams however started drinking, hoping to lighten the load before having to run. 'The Drinkstrong Foundation' attached a hose to their barrel to make it easier to drink, while 'The Chunder Chaps' revealed a meter long drinking funnel to really start chugging.
After the first lap it was hard to tell who was in the lead. 'Operation Wogan 2.0' displayed some aggressive drinking before setting out as a pair on their second lap, with 'Chicken Tikka Lasagne' another team of five giving chase, using a baby stroller to carry the barrel. The smaller teams were not running as quickly, but having to consume far more per head, were using the run to spread out the drinking, passing the barrel around the teammates, as they went.
'I don't think we can do this' - a two man team who were first back to the brewery, having finished both of their two required laps, but with at least ten pints left to drink, had a long way to go. It was clear by then that the teams of five wouldn't have time to complete three more laps before a smaller team finished and when 'Yank the Aussies' - a team of three, came in from their third lap, it set up a drink-off between the two teams to see who could finish their barrel first and cross the line to claim victory.
'Yank the Aussies' had been drinking throughout their run, holding the barrel in a bag between two of them, while the third person drunk and as a consequence had far less to drink. Despite one of their team being a non-running teetotaler 'Yank the Aussies' quickly finished their remaining five pints and won in an impressive 72 minutes 34 seconds.
The beer was starting to catch up with 'I don't think we can do this', who were by now struggling to drink at all and the impressive pairing of 'Bradshaw's Boozers' finished their second lap, having also drunk throughout the course and stole second place in 82.55. A third pair 'Blunder boob slap' also finished their second lap, the first mixed team, and the man-mountain called Blunder quickly polished off their barrel to claim third in 85.46. 'I don't think we can do this' dug deep and finished fourth in a respectable 89.15, their lack of drinking throughout their run costing them dear.
All twenty six teams eventually finished the course, '90% Sure' finishing as the first team of four in 99.01 and 'Operation Wogan 2.0' as the first five in 103.24. Special mention must go to 'Team Palmer 1&2' for winning the best dressed category - German beer wenches, 'The Dream Team' for bringing an entire cheer leading squad of 15 and 'The High Speed Barrelers' for the simplicity of their design - taping the barrel directly onto their backs using only masking tape.
Congratulations to all who took part. The race rasied a lot of money for charity and thanks to Brupond Brewery for not only hosting the event, but also providing the delicious beer.