Alcohol-Free Beer Leads to Running the London Marathon

A few years ago, my love of running lead to me discovering the new and exciting alcohol-free beers now available, which in turn lead to Good Stuff Drinks being formed.  Since then, I’ve run many miles, but none of those miles will be as important as 26.2 miles through the streets of London in October as I achieve a lifelong ambition of running the London Marathon.

This run will be more than just ticking something off my bucket list.  Instead, it’s an opportunity to raise funds for 3Food4U.  This incredible local charity takes a fantastic concept that ensures people in need get the food they need, when they need it. 

Find out how my alcohol-free beer and running journey led me to signing up for London Marathon to raise funds for 3Food4U and what makes them such a great charity.

Running, Weight Loss & Alcohol-Free Beer

I've previously talked about my motivations for setting up Good Stuff Drinks – running & weight loss. Since taking up running way back in 2008, I've taken part in a number of different events and distances - everything from 5k’s to a few marathons and even one ultra-marathon, plus a few triathlons sprinkled in between.

Alcohol Free Florence Marathon My first marathon - Florence 2009

During this time, no matter what event I was training, there was always one common problem that would potentially hinder any attempts at a PB - my weight.  I've always enjoyed food and beer much more than I should which is then reflected in my waistline.  Inevitably to try and bring my weight down for an event, I’d stop drinking beer to avoid those empty calories. As someone whose loved finding and exploring new flavoured beers ever since working a microbrewery as a student, I found this the toughest part of the training (even ahead of 20 mile runs).

Discovering Excellent Alcohol-Free Beers

There’s always been the options of alcohol-free beers, but they were not nice and barely drinkable.  After months of missing my favourite drinks, I started doing some research and found there was a new group of specialist alcohol-brewers on the marketbrewing a wide range of excellent alcohol-free beers. These weren't just excellent alcohol-free beers, these were excellent beers that just happened to be alcohol free.

Best Alcohol Free Beers & Ales

As these beers couldn't be found in supermarkets (and most still aren’t) I wanted it to give more people the opportunity to try these great beers and so Good Stuff Drinks was born. Originally it was beer interested me, but since launching and trying a range of alcohol-free drinks, I now enjoy the wines and ciders too, hence the range on Good Stuff Drinks.

Why Run the London Marathon? 

As a kid, I remember sitting watching the London Marathon each year and being captivated by the event, despite not being a runner and hating cross country. I always thought completing those 26.2 miles around London with the huge crowds would be an incredible experience and something I'd love to do.

Many years later when I got into running, that ambition was still there, but getting a place at the London Marathon was always too difficult.  Instead, I chose to run another couple marathons in the UK along with the Florence marathon, but the thought of running the London Marathon never left me. It was definitely something I wanted to do, but with the lottery for entering, had started to think I wouldn’t the opportunity. 

And then one day, an opportunity found me. 

Not Marathon Ready 

Throughout lockdown I've kept up some casual running. Heading out some mornings gives me an excuse to get out the house get some fresh air. However, my levels of fitness have definitely dropped and this was reflected in my pace - the slowest I've ever been. Even a postponed half marathon I’d booked for 2020 hadn’t lit the normal spark to motivate me to up my game and get fit again.

Alcohol Free Running Training OCR More recent Nuclear Race event

Hardly the ideal situation to sign up for a marathon!  So how did I end up with the place of the London Marathon? 

A Marathon Opportunity 

It all started on a Monday evening when my wife saw a Facebook post from a local charity she supports.  They were looking for volunteers to run the London Marathon and she suggested I put myself forward. 

Is Alcohol Free Wine & Beer Really Alcohol Free?

I have to admit, my first thoughts were practical and the amount of training needed – especially with my current lack of fitness.  I know how much training is involved for marathon and I already work full time, run a business in my spare time whilst juggling our many family commitments. Plus, my current lack of fitness meant that any chance I've sent a PB would be impossible which has always been my motivation in the past.

My head said this a practical thing to do, but my heart had other ideas.

I started to think about all those London marathons I've watched on TV and when I went in person to support a friend and got to experience the atmosphere. I realised this could be my chance to finally tick the London Marathon off my bucket list

Running into Trouble

I text the number provided and volunteered myself expecting to get a response the next day.  I certainly didn't expect a response within minutes, and after a brief exchange, they’d accepted me as one of their runners, but one of their messages had me a little nervous – would I mind doing a couple of press photos?  What if the charity was expecting an athlete and instead got me?

Please support my fundraising – Donate to 3Food4U

I thought it was only fair to give the charity the opportunity to politely decline me so quickly arranged a visit to one of their food banks to meet their founder Pesh Kapasiawala

A Warm 3Food4U Welcome 

I headed off to their Ongar food bank the very next day and met Pesh whilst his army of volunteers were setting up.  I very quickly realised the most doubts were misplaced.  Pesh quickly calmed my fears and assured me he wasn't looking for the world's fastest athletes. He was looking for runners who would commit to raising money for 3Food4U and that was something I could do. In fact, it was something I was motivated to do the more I learned about 3Food4U.

Work Done By 3Food4U 

Speaking with Pesh, the first thing that hit me was his energy and enthusiasm for the work done by 3Food4U.  The more I learned, the more I understood his drive.

3Food4U Volunteers 3Food4U volunteers at one of their food banks

The charity runs a number of food banks around the north London and Essex area. However, something I didn’t know was you have to be means tested before you can qualify for normal food banks. This process can take time and sadly for some people in urgent situations and time is something they don't have. 

Please support my fundraising – Donate to 3Food4U

3Food4U apply a different approach. One that relies on trust and generosity.  A simple change that enables them to help everyone.  It removes the need to be means tested allowing people to get access to food much faster. This is summed up perfectly by their ethostreating and supporting people humanely with dignity and respect”

A Brilliant Concept

One of the things I learned about 3Food4U was the clever way they source their food.  The work with local businesses and supermarkets who donate food close to it’s expiry date that would normally have been binned.  This enables 3Food4U to offer a wide range of foods not normally found in food banks.  Instead of just dried and tinned foods, there’s a huge selection of fresh fruit, vegetables and baked goods. I even saw a birthday cake available.

With such a simple concept, they avoid waste and make sure food gets to those who need it.

3Food4U build on this concept and take their generosity one step further.  Any fresh food that’s left over at the end of the day is then collected and taken to a local homeless charity, feeding yet more people and further reducing waste.

Why I’m Fundraising for 3Food4U

Before visiting their foodbank, I knew very little about 3Food4U and the problems they work to solve.  After visiting and learning about their great work, along with seeing the energy and enthusiasm of the volunteers, it’s changed my motivation for running.  It’s gone beyond being an opportunity to tick the London Marathon off my bucket list and changed it into a chance to raise funds for an incredible charity.

Please support my fundraising – Donate to 3Food4U

For previous marathons, my goal has always been to chase a PB, but this year things will be different.  This year I’ll be targeting my fundraising and trying to raise as much for 3Food4U as I can.  

For more information on the great work 3Food4U do, check out their website.

My Alcohol-Free Training Journey

This blog normally has features on the drinks we sell and their numerous benefits, so why am I telling you the London Marathon? It’s more than a cheeky opportunity to ask people to sponsor me.

I first discovered alcohol-free drinks as I tried to adopt a healthier lifestyle.  I wanted that to be reflected in Good Stuff Drinks, but that didn’t really happen (both to the website and me!).  It’s time I changed that and this is the first step.

Over the coming months I'm planning on adding new content across this website and our social media to reflect how going alcohol-free can be a healthy alternative to help get fit. It’ll include updates from me as I train for the London Marathon, along with other healthy info and recipes I learn on this journey.

Hopefully you find this new content interesting and beneficial.  I always enjoy receiving feedback what people think of this blog so let me know if you have any feedback or tips for running the London Marathon.  I'd love to hear from you.  Just send me an email at tom@goodstuffdrinks.com.

Please Sponsor Me

If you’d like to support my fundraising efforts and the fantastic work that 3Food4U do, please donate on my sponsorship page.

Many thanks in advance for any donations from both myself and everyone at 3Food4U.

It's Good To Share

Have you enjoyed this blog and found it useful?  Please hit the social media icons below to share it with friends to help them too.