Run Like A Beardy Guy

You too can be a beardy guyBeardy guys. You know who I’m talking about: those wiry dudes wearing split shorts they bought before you were born. The guys who have been doubling with 8 miles in the morning and 8 miles in the evening since before the invention of modern running shoes, who will double by doing laps around their basement, but only if it happens to be the storm of the century that day, because you’d better believe it takes a storm of the century to keep them from their training schedule. All other weather leaves them unimpressed. That’s partly what the beard is for: weather protection.

Ok, ok, so these guys are not always bearded. But “beardy guys” is a great catch-all term for wiry old-school dudes with a 19,793-day streak going and shorts as old as your mom. They are hardcore. Don’t you want to be hardcore?

If you want to run like a beardy guy you have to find a beardy guy race, so look for the oldest race around, preferably something where the t-shirt graphic hasn’t changed since 1985. When you arrive, expect a hundred or so runners in the middle of the woods on a barely-marked course, at least half of whom have done this race annually since its inception 37 years ago.

Dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, beardy-guy-races only recently and very reluctantly gave up the popsicle-stick timing method in favor of chip timing. Which meant they had to start charging a double-digit number of dollars for the entry fee. Which is still the main topic of conversation at packet pickup, and also the first of our top five ways to tell if you’re running like a beardy guy.

Running beardy
The only photos you’ll get when you run like a beardy guy are if your course runs by a building with surveillance cameras.

Beardy Guys Don’t Pay Exorbitant Race Fees. That race is how much? Beardy don’t pay that. Beardy guys put on their own races for ten bucks.

Beardy Guys Pee Behind Trees. Don’t expect more than five port-a-potties for a thousand-person race. Five. And that’s if there are port-a-potties.

Beardy Guys Don’t Need (Many) Creature Comforts. Bag check? What for? Beardy guys jog 30k to the start as a warmup; they don’t have time for your bag nonsense. You will catch beardy guys appreciating a good post-race bowl of soup and a beer, but if it makes the race entry fee double digits (see above), they’ll certainly bitch about it.

Beardy Guys Scoff at Your Website. These guys don’t need an FAQ, they just need to know the out and back for the half marathon measures exactly 1.097531455 km. And they need to know exactly how much of a difference there was between the two measuring wheels the certifiers used that one time in 1994. PDFs of all course certification forms and procedures can be downloaded from a beardy guy race website, if the race has a website, but the FAQ section has been under construction since 1997.

Beardy Guys Don’t Do Round Numbers. It may seem counterintuitive given their penchant for exactitude, but beardy-guy races are often distances you don’t see much, or anywhere else ever. One of my favorite races in Berlin is a 13.7-kilometer out and back race. Yes: you run 6.85 kilometers out, do a hairpin turn around a cone, and run back. That’s just how it’s always been. Not 6.84, not 6.86, definitely not 7 or even 7.5 (which would give you a 15k). But the course is measured by the same guy who makes sure the Berlin Marathon is always exactly the right length, so you can be sure it’s 13.7 and not a meter more.

Have you ever run a beardy guy race? Do you love running like a beardy guy?

I'm a 43-year-old living in Berlin, Germany and currently training for the 2020 Berlin Marathon.

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    1. Totally have run a beardy guy race. And yes, beardy guys always run outside, even in subzero. The more technologically advanced ones post pictures of their ice beard afterwards. However, my beardy guy race suddenly got a website and online registration. It was previously $5 and paper registration, and you got ribbons as your bib (“popsicle”).

  1. Here’s a beardy guy story: sub-zero, ice storm for days with 4″ of ice on everything, everyone in western Oregon is stuck in their homes unable to drive or even walk outside. Beardy guy “needs” 15 miles with hills … so he does that in a 4-story parking garage. Srsly :/

    1. Same here! I have certain shorts or tops that are years and years old…and what’s worse is I can tell you what races I’ve run in them….such a weird thing to remember …oh well!

  2. I definitely have a beardy-guy streak: still running in race tank tops from 2008 (before I moved in 2015, was still running in shirts from 2002); have been tempted to do local free popsicle-stick race except it starts too d*mn late.

  3. I have actually run that exact 13.7km race. Which I only found out about because a friend had run it previously. Like many beardy guy races, its existence and registration process seems to be handed down from one beardy guy to the next.