The beer mile? What is this wondrous sounding thing you may ask? Sounds like something straight out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, if his factory had a beer section. Roald Dahl would probably be turning in his grave if he read this. But I digress.

The beer mile was born in the late 1980s, when runners and avid beer enthusiasts came up with the hybrid that would combine their love of beer and running.

Personally, I have tried the beer mile, and it isn’t as pleasant as it seems. It is downright unpleasant.

To participate in the beer mile, you must compete on a 400m track, an oval would also suffice. The rules, and yes there are rules, are as follows:

  1. You have a 9 metre “chug zone” to finish your beer.
  2. You must skull four beers that constitute of 5 percent alcohol or 355-millilitre cans.
  3. No shotgunning is permitted and a one lap penalty is enforced if you vomit mid-race

The beer mile is prominent here in Australia, with Athletics Clubs indulging in the feat as an end of year spectacle. Whilst it may seem like a bit of a joke, in 2014, an American broke the five-minute mark.

Let me set the scene of a Beer Mile World Championship, from what I gauged from the live-stream.

The setting is ten runners in singlets and splitty’s (running shorts) making their way around a tree-lined course carved out of a parking lot in Austin, Texas. Lewis Kent, a lanky twenty-one-year-old kinesiology student from Mississauga, Ontario, leads the pack, his fluorescent-yellow shoes glowing in the night. Two thousand fans cheer him on, some waving oversized cut-outs of his grinning face.

Kent surges up to a table at the side of the course and slows to a walk. In one smooth motion, he grabs a bottle of Amsterdam Blonde with his left hand, twists off the cap with his gloved right hand, and pours the amber liquid down his throat.

Now some of you may be under the misconception that Athletics is boring, and you probably have a strong argument for that. Yet the adage of beer gives it a certain element of theatre and drama much better than that of Home and Away. You don’t know what is going to happen. (Well you sort of do, beer + running = vomiting or some uncomfortable experience).

As I watch the livestream I realise that Kent isn’t the fastest runner, but his chug (skull in Australian slang) is superhuman. Through appropriate research, I found out he has spent months refining it, and, at 5.15 seconds, it is world class. “That was a helluva beer right there!” a commentator yells. You’d be right sir.

However, the reality is, in the case of Lewis Kent, the winner of the inaugural Beer Mile World Classic, the guy is making bank. For a sport that is widely regarded as a bit of a piss-take, Kent is securing sponsorships that professional runners don’t obtain in the entirety of their professional running lives. Kent has signed with an agent and accepted a sponsorship deal from the apparel company Brooks. Traditional runners obviously felt a bit slighted, which Kent has been quoted as saying he understands. “There are people who train ten years of their life to get a sponsorship deal and never get a free pair of shoes,” he says. “And then suddenly, this guy can drink beers and run, and doesn’t even run that quickly?”

He’s also appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Apparently, she sent him home with a one-year supply of his racing beverage of choice.

In summary, if you’re looking for a new drinking game this Summer, get a few mates and head down to your local oval and give it a crack. Who knows you may even be the next Beer Mile World Champion! (Probably not). And of course, try and do it in a safe and responsible manner.


Featured image by kaveman743.