RunOurCity (ROC), the organiser of the controversial Beer Run, posted an update on their Facebook page on 4 August to acknowledge the intense commotion over health concerns of the event. With the priority to encourage and promote running culture, they have decided not to provide runners with alcoholic beverages during the run.

Beer at ROC: For fun, not competition

ROC is a social enterprise dedicated to promote running culture through street runs. In their latest announcement, ROC explained that Beer Run – known as Beer Mile outside of Hong Kong – has become an annual competition in England and America. Over 7,000 races have been organised all over the world so far.

ROC has brought Beer Run to Hong Kong in 2016, which was held at Central Harbourfront Event Space, with over 500 contestants. ROC emphasised the race was well attended and had garnered positive responses, with no incident of injury.

The run was supposed to be held outside the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal on 4 November this year. The enrolment fee for the individual 1.6km race was HKD348; while the 4x400m relay team (of four people) was HKD1,200. Competitors have to drink up a 330ml glass of beer upon completing a lap of 400m; or four glasses of beer upon finishing the race. According to ROC, money raised from the run will be used to help the local needy and adolescents seeking employment.

Andes Pak-hang Leung, chief executive and co-founder of ROC, expressed that the goal was to encourage street running, among those who have or have never engaged in sport. The reason to provide alcoholic beverages during the run was to “add more joy and fun” throughout the event.

“Providing beer creates a happy atmosphere,” Leung remarked. “The race is for fun, not competition. We hope the participants enjoy the event,” he explained. Leung used to work for a beer company before founding the social enterprise in 2013.

Hong Kong footballer So Wai-chuen, an event ambassador, expressed that the drinking component would put participants at ease. “They can relax and have fun during the event; furthermore, it is not a competitive run,” explained So. Nonetheless, he added that it could be challenging for runners to jog right after guzzling a can of beer.

Adverse effects of alcohol consumption during sports activities

Even though ROC had later announced runners could choose either water or beer during the run, the campaign continued to draw attention over health concerns of drinking beer while running.

Professor Sophia Chan, Secretary for Food and Health, has advised the public not to ingest alcohol during sports activities. “Alcohol consumption has an adverse effect on sports performance. It is not advisable,” she emphasised. “We urge the organiser not to encourage participants to drink when doing sports.”

The Department of Health (DH) has also issued a letter to ROC – alerting them of the danger of alcohol consumption during a race. DH also advised the public to abstain from consuming alcoholic drinks while exercising – as alcohol is a diuretic, and could cause dehydration.

Hong Kong Medical Association President Dr Choi Kin said although drink-running is not against the law – it will impact one’s focus. This intensifies the risk of falls and collision with other participants during the run.

“It’s already illegal to drive a vehicle after drinking four cans of beer,” the doctor eloborated.

In addition, alcohol could have an effect on the central nervous system. It slows down the processing of information, as well as responses, coordination, accuracy, and stability – thus, making the runner more susceptible to accidents and heat stroke.

Apart from health concerns, linking alcohol brands to sports activities may impose negative impacts; particularly on young people and adolescents. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Global Strategy To Reduce The Harmful Use Of Alcohol report, the alcohol-related sponsorship of sports and cultural events is emerging as a serious concern in some countries. MIMS

Read more:
What is healthier: Craft beer or regular beer?
The dangerous, growing trend of binge drinking
Drinking alcohol offers short-term happiness