David April and the Fishtown Beer Runners of Philadelphia have become an iconic segment of the beer landscape, not only in their native Pennsylvania city, but also in the south of Spain. In May of 2011, April was invited to the University of Granada in Spain, to hear a doctoral candidate defend her dissertation based on the thesis of Professor Manuel Castillo-Garzon, M.D., PhD, a professor of Medical Physiology in the University’s School of Medicine. The original study focused on the rehydration of athletes using beer and water. The dissertation was an extension of that study, and focused on "effectiveness and safety for the consumer."
After the presentation, David April sat on the panel of experts to discuss the newest study and the social impact it may have in the world of sports. He also attended the launch of the Granada Beer Runners, a newly formed “sister-group” of beer runners, organized in the pattern of the Fishtown Beer Runners. Attendees included Juan Antonio Corbalán, as well as the Professor, who arrived at the restaurant garden of John Rana in Albaizin.
April leads a group of American athletes in a weekly running exercise program. Weekly runs begin at his house at 2346 Susquehanna Avenue in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, every Thursday night. The runs follow a different route of 4-6 miles each week and end at a local pub that serves high quality craft beer. Even the most discriminating beer connoisseur would enjoy beer at this level. Although the routes are 4-6 miles, David April is a connector-type-of-guy, and also provides a more direct route for the walkers’ segment of the club.
What makes this running club different? In November 2007, David April’s friend, Eric Fiedler, had just read a study conducted by Professor Castillo-Garzon, a doctor at the University of Granada in Spain. This study focused on the dehydration and rehydration of athletes, comparing the effectiveness of rehydration using water versus beer. This research showed that “moderate consumption of beer can help maintain higher levels of plasma glucose and mitigate stress hormone responses.”
With David April’s natural gift of being a community organizer, Fiedler and April formed the Fishtown Beer Runners in December of 2007, and were off and running in an effort to test the Professor’s theory. The Fishtown Beer Runners ran consistently, each week, using a route mapped out by April that led to a different beer bar location for every run. These runs happen in every season, in all sorts of weather, and “promote responsible running and drinking in the interest of science,” says David April.
They are different from the Hash House Harriers in that beer for the Fishtown Beer Runners always comes after the run. He insists that the “beer reward” requires some level of effort, and demands that of his running colleagues. Beer is celebrated, and each week, the club toasts to “The Professor,” President Emeritus of the Philadelphia club.
In Castillo-Garzon’s study on beer as a rehydrating drink after exercise, 25 physically fit students were subject to running on a treadmill in 104 degree F temperatures until they could no longer take another step. At the end of each session, half of the group was rehydrated with 2 pints of Spanish lager, while the other half were given water. The beer-drinking group was also allowed water in addition to the beer.
In the studies conducted at the University of Granada, the focus on maltodextrins is of great interest to sports nutrition. These carbohydrates are present in beer, and seem to correct the possibility of hypoglycemia because they metabolize slowly and release glucose into the blood gradually, leading to lower concentrated levels of the plasma, and allowing it to disperse more widely throughout the body. Rehydration with beer is more effective than just water.