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Windsor, Booze and Running Shoes: An Interview with Holly Light

Think a beer (or two) at the finish line would make you run a bit faster? Then the British Beer Run is the event for you! We chatted to Holly Light from AAT Events about the upcoming race in Windsor on 13 October.

Culture Calling: What inspired you to create the British Beer Run?
Holly Light: It’s a new event for AAT events, but it was delivered last year by Fullsteam Events. Windsor and Eton Brewery are really trying to put Windsor on the map for beer. Our website has a really nice passage that describes how “for 300 years Windsor ales were famous among rich and poor alike. On St. Georges Day 2010, 79 years after the closure of Windsor’s last brewery, four friends came together to bring brewing back to the heart of these two famous Berkshire towns.” They’ve gone on to produce over 40 cask and keg beers throughout the world. For example, they’ve made a Windsor and Eton Knot to commemorate the recent Royal Wedding. And, fun fact, the hop for that beer was grown within the Royal Estate!

Image Credit: Noble Green Wines via Facebook
As an events company we at AAT events are always looking for the next big thing. There are a lot of mud runs etc, but we always want to find something new and different. In France there’s something called the Medoc Marathon. It’s joked that it’s the longest marathon in the world because people are drinking wine and having a good time throughout. So we’ve taken that concept and brought it to the UK, and we chose to start in Windsor because this brewery is becoming a world leader in beer. So it’s really about bringing everyone to Berkshire to celebrate, enjoy the beer, and put it on the map!
CC: Aside from the Brewery, why else is Windsor the perfect location for the race?
HL: We wanted to make an event that was accessible to everyone, so part of that is having a flat and fast course. For more experienced runners, at the end of the season it’s a great place to come and get their personal best time, and also for newcomers it can really inspire people to come along and give something a go. The route is particularly scenic in Windsor, because there are so many iconic landmarks. The race goes past the River Thames, with most of the course being on the Thames towpath, and the runners will also see the Great Western Railway Viaduct which was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, one of the foremost engineers of Britain’s Industrial Revolution. Participants will be able to get some great photographs – especially as they are running back across a field with Windsor Castle in the background!

Image Credit: British Beer Run via their website
CC: You mentioned that you want to encourage both experienced runners and also newcomers, and you have a range of different races to cater for this range in ability.
HL: The other great thing about Windsor is they’ve got this park called Alexandra Gardens which is right next to the brewery. The half marathon, 5K and 10K all start from there, but there’s also a brand new chip timed 1K race which is just about having a bit of fun. It’s for people who hate running (potentially!) or have never run before, but just want to come and have an experience. Not everybody has the time or ability to train for a full half marathon, and even a 5K can be quite daunting. A 1K is literally a 5-10 minute walk or jog – there’s no pressure to run the whole thing – but you still get to finish under the same finish arch, get a beer and a medal as well.
CC: There’s even a family fun run!
HL: It’s the last event of the day and it literally stays within Alexandra Gardens, where there are loads of kid’s attractions. Participants do one lap around a tarmacked area in the garden. It’s very inclusive. Parents can go off and run a full race if they want to, and then come back and do this family run with the kids.

Image Credit: The British Beer Run via their website
If someone is running, chances are they have family and children who want to come and support, but they don’t really want to run themselves. So having this event in Alexandra Gardens creates a nice little hotspot, like an event village, to entertain the little ones.
CC: Do many people run for charity?
HL: At the moment we don’t have an official charity partner, though it is something we’re open to. But generally we do get quite a lot of runners taking part for charity. Typically, at our events, people who take part in the half marathon tend to raise around £250.
CC: The run finishes up at the Windsor & Eton Brewery. Can you speak a bit more about what post-race perks are on offer?
HL: Windsor and Eton Brewery are very kindly gifting two free beers to all the participants, which they can either drink at the finish line or can have in a bottle to take away. They also get a portion of hot food. Last year we had things like pulled pork and nachos, but this year we haven’t confirmed the exact menu yet. Runners also get a bespoke medal, which last year was a bottle opener, and we’re hoping to do that again. Lulu Lemon are also coming to support the event, so they’ll have a pop up stall where they’ll be leading stretching sessions and retailing some products.

Image Credit: British Beer Runs via their website
CC: There’s also entertainment on offer?
HL: Yeah, we’re going to have live music. We haven’t confirmed the name of the act yet… it’s top secret!
CC: You’ve mentioned there are a lot of similarities to last year, but can participants expect any new developments?
HL: Part of making the event bigger and better is that AAT Events have teamed up with Fullsteam who delivered it by themselves last year. We’re multi-award winning race organisers in Surrey and Hampshire, so we’re bringing further expertise to the event in terms of race management. Runners can expect lots of happy and smiley marshals clapping along the course, they can expect the route to be well marked, and obviously it’s chip timing, so they’ll get live results. We’re also working on developing the route so that it literally goes through a pub that serves Windsor and Eton Brewery beer, so participants can have a pint during the race and then run back!

The British Beer Run takes place on 13 October at Windsor & Eton Brewery, Wansittart Estate, SL4 1SE. To take part register here.