Dan Lopata

Live, Love, Listen

No Thank You, I Don’t Drink. The Trail to MMT100

If you read running blogs you might get the idea that in order to be a trail runner or an ultrarunner you need two things (If you’re guy, one if you’re a gal)

  1. A beard
  2. An insatiable thirst for beer

Neither of these are true and actually have become quite boorish in my opinion. The only facial hair related things of any interest to me in the ultra world are following Matt Flaherty’s Mustache and Rob Krar’s Beard. Why? Because they are the fastest ultra facial hairs on the planet. I’ve even heard the argument that facial hair makes you run faster… somebody ought to give the heads up to Kilian Jornet.


But honestly I can deal with the beard thing as I have sported an Imperial (known in most circles as a soul patch) for quite some time now.

The beer thing? This is bothersome.

Hi, I’m Dan and I’m an alcoholic.

I won’t tell you whether or not I go to meetings, or have ever gone to meetings. That’s not my point about this. My point is that I have not had a drink in 23 years, and most people whom I’ve run with know this about me. So why do you keep offering?

Now this wouldn’t be that big of deal to me if it were just a controlled social thing, and people were actually drinking one good beer.


But when you’re bringing PBR’s, Genny Light, and Coors to the party, you’re not drinking for taste. And, some of the group runs I have been going on recently are resembling Music Festivals which in my opinion have just turned into open air drug houses where people really don’t care about the music, they just want to get high. The group run is for the run, or is it for the beer afterwards? If that’s the case, why not take up hashing – drinkers with a running problem? I like the hashers because they state what they are about. They’re good people, and a group that I don’t run with because that is not my focus, and not where I find enjoyment.

Add to this the number of local athlete’s we have lost recently due to drivers under the influence of chemicals; I find it hypocritical when people have raised their heart rate, which makes the chemical reach the brain faster, drink after a run and get behind the wheel of a car. And, don’t give the Designated Driver business, because I’ve seen that as the exception rather than the rule.

Now, once I got sober, I did not expect the world to change before my eyes and everyone to change their behavior because of my alcoholism. I had to learn how not to take a drink in a world and culture that alcohol is prevalent everywhere. Heck, I play live music in bars as a substantial part of my income. But, I expect drinking in a bar, and when I am working, I go in do my job and leave. And, yes, my wife drinks… No I am not her personal DD, she is responsible a 6 pack lasts for months in our fridge. So even though I’m complaining about this running scene, I have dealt with it and will continue to do so as long as it is part of the culture.

That said, I know a significant portion of the trailrunning and ultrarunning population who are recovering alcoholics. I’ve known some who have “slipped” on the trails. I know most are reticent to talk about the fact that they no longer drink because it prompts all sorts of stuff from perceiving that people think you’re judgmental of their drinking behavior (which I’m sure some readers will place me in this category right now), to feeling the shame of what happened when they drank, to feeling “broken” because they can’t take part in what looks like everyone else is doing. And, the ironic thing about this, is many turned to running as a method to deal with their alcoholism. I have no real research, but I would bet that the percentage of revering alcoholics among the trailrunning population is much greater than the percentage of recovering alcoholics in the general population.

It seems that many runners would give you hell if you offered them a cigarette, but think nothing of offering someone a chemical that has the power to kill them.


I don’t expect this rant/blogpost to change anyone’s behavior. I am partly writing it as catharsis, and partly because I hope at minimum it makes someone stop and think. I will still go to group trail runs, I may even hang out after some, I will not make a stink publicly about behavior I witness (I may just leave), and I won’t make people uncomfortable unless they want to feel that way around me.

If you don’t drink, and you run with me, know you’re not the only one, and it’s pretty cool to find the simple joy and wonder of the trail without enhancements.

Happy Trails



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One thought on “No Thank You, I Don’t Drink. The Trail to MMT100

  1. Hey, I’m Ignace, I’m not an alcoholic but have quit drinking to see if it has effect on my running. (Should make a blog post about it…)
    I feel you, once you stop drinking, you see it’s everywhere and mostly not in a good way. Like you say: if it were one for taste, all the better, but it’s often about the quantity…
    Anyway … really liked reading this!

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