The Runner's Guide to Bar Fights

Readers, when we launched Dumb Runner nearly three years ago we never imagined that someday we’d find ourselves publishing a runner’s guide to bar fights. But then, we never imagined just how bananas the news cycle would become. But this is the world we live in, and these are the hands we’re given.

So here we are.

As a runner, would you know how to react in a bar fight? Or would you stand there like a human punching bag, eyes shut tight, wishing you were home, chuckling at zingers on the message boards?

We sincerely hope it’s the former. To that end, here are a few…


What is a bar fight?
Simply put, a bar fight is a fight that takes place in a bar, tavern, pub, or other drinking establishment. Hence the name—“bar fight.”

Are bar fights alcohol-fueled?
Quite often, yes.

How do they start?
Most bar fights start between two patrons, over some real or perceived slight. Perhaps one patron spills his drink on another patron’s shoes. Perhaps one patron believes, rightly or wrongly, that another patron is flirting with the first patron’s date. Perhaps, as in the photo above, one patron has heard one too many comment about his plastic Viking helmet not being black like everyone else’s.

If stock photos are any indication, bar fights are also commonly caused by sports-related disputes. e.g.,

SPORTS FAN #1: “My sports team is the most skilled!”

SPORTS FAN #2: “No, my sports team is the most skilled—yours has poor skills!”

SPORTS FAN #1: [throws punch]

SPORTS FAN #2: [grimaces]

PERSON IN BACKGROUND: [makes “Fellas, fellas!” gesture with hands]

Do runners ever start bar fights?
All the time. Just the other evening, in fact, I was with a large group of runners at a local brewpub, after a run, when one of them said that he would never race in the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% because any PR he ran in those shoes wouldn’t be a “real” PR. Another runner argued that it absolutely would be a real PR, and that the first runner was crazy. Things got pretty heated.

OK, but do runners ever start actual, physical bar fights?
It’s hard to find data on that, but our hunch is that, no, runners do not often start bar fights. For one thing, runners tend to be pretty meek characters to begin with. For another, whatever aggression runners do generate, they tend to burn off during long runs and speed workouts—not by knocking some stranger’s teeth out. For yet another, after a couple of beers, most runners are thinking less about perceived slights and more about their run the next morning. Who has the time or energy for fisticuffs when you need to be up at 5:30 for a 16-miler?

What should I do if I find myself in the middle of a bar fight?
First, take a deep breath. Quickly scan the room. Adopt a stable stance, with feet shoulder-width apart, arms loose, and fists up, protecting your face. Then make for the nearest exit and don’t look back.

Isn’t that sort of cowardly?
What are you, a character out of Kenny Rogers song? No, it’s smart. Go. Let everyone else beat the crap out of each other like spastic, mouth-breathing slabs of testosterone.

But what if I’ve just started a beer that I’ve already paid for?
Take it with you.

What is the best bar fight scene from a movie, ever?
That would be this, from the 1980 classic Airplane!

Was UB40 on that movie’s soundtrack?

That’s too bad, because UB40 was a great band.
UB40 sucked.

Yeah? Come over here and say that.
Nope. I’ve got to be up early tomorrow. Peace out.