What You Need to Know About the Beer Mile
I consider myself a fairly avid runner, and I’m currently training for a half marathon. I’m also not so far out of college that I can’t easily conjure up vivid memories of “Beer Olympics” spanning full afternoons (and sometimes weekends). But never had I considered the two activities in anyway related, if not only for their requiring a certain amount of determination. I was surprised to realize then, that I had never actually heard of the beer mile. It seems like something I would have come across in my past four years of college. I asked around to some friends, runners and non runners alike, and apparently I’m in the minority, most people are at least familiar with this endeavor. The race isn’t just for college kids though; it’s a big deal with runners who hold world records, boasting official rules and age categories including ‘Super Hash Grand Masters’ who have completed the feat and are ages 69 and up. Though, that’s not to say it isn’t popular with those who want to be reminded of their college “glory” days.
So What Exactly Is the Beer Mile?
Just what it sounds like. Contestants run one mile, typically around a track, and before each lap consume a standard size can of beer. So that’s four laps around a track and four 12 oz cans of beer. Contestants drink a full-sized beer, run a quarter mile and then do the whole thing over three more times. And of course, this is a timed endeavor. BeerMile.com, the official beer mile resource compiled an official rule set for the race, with specifications like the beer must be at least five percent alcohol— hard cider and lemonades are not permitted. Don’t think about shotgunning your beverage, straws and wide mouth bottles are also not allowed. It’s highly recommended that contestants tip the empty beer can over their heads verify the empty vessel, after controversy arose concerning a record holder not sufficiently draining his can. Oh, and if you vomit before finishing the mile (how one doesn’t is a mystery to me) you must complete one penalty lap at the end of the race. But don’t worry— if you vomit more than once during the competition you’re still only required one penalty lap.
The exact origins of this feat are a bit hazy. The first races took place in Canada in the mid 80’s and the concept made its way to New England shortly after. BeerMile.com boasts over 100,000 individual participant entries and 7,000 races in its database. According to a recent survey however, it’s estimated only one in eight enter their race results into the site.
There are now two, yes two, world championship beer mile races. Most recently, in October 2017, Corey Bellemore beat his own world record for the beer mile finishing the feat in 4:33.6 seconds in San Francisco. The 22-year-old Canadian didn’t jump off the couch one day, set down the video game control and decide to set a beer mile world record. He’s a Canadian Track and Field athlete who averages 85 miles a week, who also happens to be a beer mile competitor. Erin O’Mara holds the women’s record, coming in at a swift 6:08 in December of 2015. She’s no amateur either, and competed in the U.S. Olympic marathon trials.
What the Beer Mile Does to Your Body
Just so we’re clear here, consuming four alcoholic beverages in a short period of time is considered binge drinking. A 12 oz can can of beer is about 1 and ½ cups of volume, so doing the math, by the end of the mile you’ll have 6 cups of beer sloshing around in your stomach, and don’t forget about carbonation. Warm beer makes consumption slightly easier as it has less carbonation.
A majority of the alcohol you’re guzzling will be absorbed by your small intestine. But, with the added combination of chugging beer and running as quickly as you can, you’ll be prone to GI distress, cramping, and you guessed it, vomiting. Make sure you acquire your own designated driver for the race. Four beers brings the average 150 pound adult to the .08 blood alcohol legal driving limit, though it could be even higher as you’re consuming at such a rapid pace and your body hasn’t had the proper time to process the alcohol.
If, after reading all of this, a beer mile sounds like something you must experience yourself, there are a few official beer mile races. There’s the FloTrack Beer Mile World Championships in Austin and the Beer Mile World Classic held in London. Though, the beer mile is typically a smaller event held by groups of rather ambitions, competitive friends.