If an athlete appears on a food or drink label, Trevor Hofbauer says the odds are pretty good that it’s on a box of Wheaties, but that’s not the case for him, as he has been featured on a beer can. That’s right, the Village Brewery in Calgary has produced a running-inspired beer, and every can has Hofbauer’s face on it. The beer, a natural golden ale, is called the Village Runner, and proceeds from its sales will be put toward helping Hofbauer get to Japan this summer, where he’s set to compete in the marathon at the Tokyo Olympics.
Hofbauer is the only Canadian man with a guaranteed spot on the start line in Sapporo (where the Olympic marathon is set to be held in August). He booked his ticket to the Games, which will be his first time running in the Olympics, with his win at the Canadian Olympic Marathon Trials in Toronto in 2019. He ran 2:09:51 in Toronto, which is the second-fastest marathon time in Canadian history, behind only Cam Levins‘s national record of 2:09:25.
While he is a lock to run in the Games, he still has to find a way to get to Japan, which is not a cheap trip. After Hofbauer qualified for the Olympics, Kirsten Fleming, executive director of Run Calgary and the Calgary Marathon, began brainstorming ways to help him fund his journey.
“Kirsten supported me since 2015 with events, and I’ve volunteered at her races,” says Hofbauer, who lives and trains in Calgary. “We have a great working relationship and a strong friendship. This collaboration with the Village Brewery was her idea to help me out.”
Hofbauer says he and Fleming began talking about potential fundraising efforts in early 2020, but when the pandemic hit, everything was put on hold. With the Olympics rescheduled for this summer, they reconvened in February, and the end result was the Village Runner.
Working with the Village Brewery only made sense for Fleming, as the company has been a sponsor for Run Calgary events for years. “Kirsten and Tom Stewart, the founder of the Village Brewery, had been chatting for a while about coming up with a runner’s beer,” says Village Brewery vice president Fraser Abbott. “This became the perfect choice to come up with Trevor on the can and label it the Village Runner.”
The new beer has sold extremely quickly since its launch on May 25, and Abbott says it has been a great way to bring Calgary runners together. “There’s such a community of support for Trevor and the other runners around here,” he says. “I think we’re going to sell out of this current batch. We might have to do another round of it for August when Trevor’s ready to race.”
As Hofbauer notes, though, the Village Runner goes far beyond Tokyo. It’s currently supporting him in his Olympic journey, but he says it’s for all local runners. “This can is a representation of our community,” Hofbauer says. “It’s for everyone who gets out and runs races here, enjoys the trials, people who work the events. This beer is for them, I’m just representing it.”
Abbott echoes Hofbauer’s words, and while he says Hofbauer is “a great person to have on a label,” the Village Runner is, as a whole, for “runners toiling on the trails during COVID, event organizers working to get races back and everyone else who supports the sport.”
To learn more about the Village Brewery and the team’s support for Hofbauer ahead of the Olympics, click here.