November 28, 2014

The rules are simple—sprint around a 400-meter track four times to equal one mile. Before each lap, you must consume one 12-ounce beer (of at least 5% ABV) as fast as humanly possible. Oh, and you can't get sick, unless you want to run an extra lap.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

The beer mile has existed as a underground running event since the 1980s but has never made its way into the mainstream—until now. Thanks to the viral abilities of YouTube and a man named James “The Beast” Nielson, the beer mile has exploded in popularity. On April 28, 2014, Nielson broke the beer mile world record with an unbelievable time of 4 minutes, 57 seconds. Watch the video here, and make sure to pay attention to his technique. I've never seen anyone drink beer that quickly.

So why would anyone want to do this? It's certainly an unconventional way to stay in shape, but why not? If you love beer and you love running, then what better way to bridge two favorite activities?

I have been running beer miles since college. While I was on the track and field team, we celebrated the season's end with a beer mile each year. I was usually the only girl to compete, and usually one of the only ones who could finish without throwing up. It was a blast. Really.

When I recently discovered an event called the “Beer Mile World Championships," I emailed the race director without hesitation. FloTrack, a website that reports on anything and everything in the running world, was planning the event in Austin, Texas. The hope was to attract the fastest beer milers from all over—whether Olympic qualifiers, elite runners, or simply runners like me—and crown a world champion.

A few days later I got this response: “Elizabeth, we set the official date for December 3rd. You will compete in the elite mile if you decide to participate.” I nearly fell out of my chair. This was happening. One little detail—I would be racing alongside professional elite athletes. The chance to compete alongside runners of this ability is so exciting to me, even if I may get my butt kicked!

From my experience, I've learned one thing—the beer mile is less about how fast you can run and more about how fast you can chug. I'm banking on my drinking abilities to carry me through. My plan? Treat it like any race I've ever run. Don't eat too much in advance (for obvious reasons), show up well-rested, and most important, have fun. Stay tuned for my race recap after the big event.

The Beer Mile World Championships take place on Wednesday, December 3 at 5:30 PM. Flo Track will broadcast the event from 6 to 8 PM CST. Visit http://www.flotrack.org/beermileworlds/ for more information.

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