In my previous post, I introduced the beer mile, a race that requires you to run four laps around a track while quickly drinking four beers. This unique race has recently exploded in popularity amongst the running community. On December 3, I traveled to Austin, Texas to compete in elite section of the first-ever beer mile world championships. Read on for my race recap.
I sized up my competition as I stood on the starting line for the women’s elite section of the FloTrack World Beer Mile Championships. I hadn't been this nervous for a race since my college track days. Many of my competitors were professional runners and sponsored by big names such as Brooks. They could run mile, 5k, and half-marathon times I’d dreamed of running. If I doubted myself, I had to remember that I had been selected, along with 10 other women, as one of the fastest beer milers in the world. Sure, I was fast, but there was one ability I had that many athletes, even Olympians, lacked—I could chug beer, run like hell, and somehow not hurl.
The event had attracted a ton of press—The New York Times had published an article and reporters from CNN, ESPN, and Runner’s World were at the event. The race would also be live-streamed over the Internet, so my friends and parents (proud parents, if you will!) would be watching.
To help plan race strategy, competitors were allowed to choose their beer in advance. I had decided on a “special beer mile brew” from an Austin-based brewery, Hops and Grain. It reminded me of Budweiser, but crisper and easier to drink. We could also request a specific temperature for our beer. It might sound ridiculous, but many dedicated beer milers swear that room temperature beer is the easiest to chug. I'd practiced with colder beer, so I decided to stick with what I knew.
Either way, I vowed to be the quickest one off that starting line. Off we went!
Lap 1: I downed my first beer in 11.97 seconds, the second fastest in the field. Nerves caused me to sprint to the front of the pack. As I led the race in first place, I had two thoughts. First: What the #$%& am I doing? Could I actually win this thing!? Second: Oh yeah, I’m so going to pay for this.
Lap 2: I crossed the line in first, but I was exhausted from my dead-out sprint. (As any good beer miler knows, the greatest challenge is chugging while trying to catch your breath.) I took 18 seconds longer to finish my beer, dropping back to fifth place. There was a penalty if you left too much in the can, so I'd taken more time than necessary to finish. No matter—there was still plenty of time to catch up.
Lap 3: Ouch. I was hurting. I took nearly 30 seconds to down my third beer. A wave of nausea smacked me in the face and at this point, I was thinking only one thing: Do not throw up in front of hundreds of people.
Lap 4: At this point, I just had to finish the race. I knew I wasn’t going to win, but I still had to finish respectably. I don't remember much about my final lap, but I crossed the line in 7:03, a new personal record. Afterwards, I headed straight for the grass. (And whoever the guy was who thought this would be a great time to snap a photo of me, well, you were wrong.)
Overall, I finished eighth. I could have paced myself better, but I was just happy I held myself together. So, would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Sure, the beer mile may be a bit unconventional in terms of exercise, but here's how I like to look at it: being active is being active. However, for the sake of my liver, I'm not running beer miles every weekend. Practiced in moderation, the beer mile is a perfect combination of physical activity, fun, and utter ridiculousness.
Check out FloTrack.org to watch a full replay of the elite men's and women's beer mile races.