Because alcohol may impair sports performance, we hypothesized there would be less drinking in serious recreational runners. We used mailed questionnaires to examine drinking patterns (2-wk quantity/frequency), scores on modified versions of the Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (brief MAST[BMAST], short MAST [SMAST], and parental history of problem drinking in 397 men and 144 women runners participating in a 20-mile race, compared with a nonexercising control population of 138 men and 119 women. A subset of 188 pairs (104 men, 84 women) were matched for gender, age, educational level, and marital status. We used chi-square analysis, paired t-test, and ANOVA. Male gender, running, and a family history for problem drinking predicted increased total alcohol consumption. We found that male runners (vs male controls) drank more (14.2 ± 19.6 vs 5.4 ± 7.6 drinks·wk-2, P = 0.004) and felt guilty about their drinking (26.6% vs 13.8%, P < 0.01). Men and women runners reported more occasions of drinking than matched controls (2.8 ± 2.7 vs 2.0 ± 2.3·wk-2, P = 0.004). Runners with scores on the BMAST (≥6) or SMAST (≥3) suggestive of a history of problem drinking drank less than controls with a similar score. Contrary to our hypothesis, running is associated with increased alcohol consumption, except in those who report a history of problem alcohol behavior.