Running Trails and
Drinking Ales

By Tiffany Lutke

Gina Lucrezi enjoys a beer at Upslope

Gina Lucrezi enjoys a beer at Upslope

If you ask Coloradans about their hobbies, chances are they might include enjoying the outdoors and drinking craft beer. For professional ultrarunner Gina Lucrezi, the two fit together like a sock and shoe. Among Lucrezi’s sponsors such as New Balance and Pro-Tec Athletics, is Boulder-based Upslope Brewing Company. That’s right — a craft brewery sponsors an ultrarunner; it doesn’t get much more Colorado than that.

Lucrezi, 32, says the partnership is perfect in numerous ways. “Trail running fits hand in hand with craft beer. Craft, to me, is rugged, independent and out there on its own. It’s not made for the mass market and neither is trail running. Both are unique in their own way,” she says. “Craft brewers are constantly searching for new styles and techniques, while trail runners are looking for new vistas. It’s freedom for creativity.”

That creativity takes place over distances greater than a marathon (26.2 miles). While Lucrezi’s resume is filled with 50-kilometer runs (31.07 miles) and a few 100-mile trail races, her glass is filled with craft beer. So how did her partnership with Upslope Brewing begin? “I consider Upslope as my living room. I lived across the street and my boyfriend and I would always go over,” she says. “I thought to myself, ‘Upslope is a really outdoorsy brewery. I wonder if they would support my trail-running career?’”

A partnership was struck. Upslope, which began pouring beer in 2008, supports Lucrezi by providing her with Upslope products, but it goes beyond the beer. “It’s more than just beer or verbal support,” she points out. “They care, even if I don’t have my best day.”

Additionally, the brewery provides a venue at their Lee Hill brewery for a run club Lucrezi started: Upslope’s Lee Hill Run Club. “I wanted to start a fun run to get people more active and on the trail and Upslope has a great location close to trails. I enjoy having a beer and it’s a nice reward after the run, she says. “It’s a great way to bring people together and get them motivated.”

During the fun-run events, Upslope gives participants a discount on beer, while Lucrezi’s other sponsors rotate setting up tents to show runners samples of their products. The partnership between Lucrezi and Upslope also has a charitable feature. During a recent run club event, Upslope donated a dollar from every beer sold to Rocky Mountain Rescue Group to recognize Dave Mackey, a local runner who was injured. “It is the integrity of the brand and the people that make you feel a part of the family,” she says. Other runners apparently agree because the club continues to grow.

So when the run ends and the sweat begins to dry, what will we find in Lucrezi’s glass? “It’s always the IPA,” she says without hesitation. “It’s my go-to. Anytime of the day,
it’s awesome.”