There’s nothing quite like a refreshing beer after a run. But how about drinking a beer and then running?
On May 13, Melbourne played host to former Beer Mile World Record holders Lewis Kent (Canada) and Australia’s own Josh Harris at the Brooks International Beer Mile event.
The true origins of the Beer Mile are a little hazy – as you’d expect an event that’s gained traction purely through word of mouth to be – but it’s popular event at universities and athletic clubs throughout North America. But the rest of the world is surely following suit: in Australia places like Adelaide and Melbourne Universities, as well as Stawell, have hosted Beer Mile events.
Though it may be an ‘underground’ sport, the Beer Mile has its own very specific set of rules. The event itself is simple: drink a beer and run 4x400m. But to qualify for an official result, the beer needs to be 355ml minimum and have at least a 5 per cent alcohol content. And if a competitor throws up, there’s an additional 400m penalty lap thrown in.
When the gun goes off, rather than the usual jostling for position on the inside rail of the track, there’s a clinking of bottle tops and beer cans and sculling of ales in a 10m ‘chug zone’ instead. The run begins after the ‘chug’ (possibly with a few burps!).
Pros like Lewis Kent and Josh Harris take off at lightning speed with a more reserved last 50m to make the next beer somewhat easier to drink. Kent’s 2015 World Record time is 4:47.17 (he was pipped at the post last year by fellow Canadian Corey Bellemore, who ran 4:34.35) while Harris ran 4:51.33 last year. Most of us struggle to run at that pace anyway!
Both Kent and Harris say that beer choice definitely “makes a big difference”. Their advice? Avoid the thick stouts or extremely hoppy beers, and stick to the lagers or other easily drinkable beers. Harris also adds that, like other things in running, it’s best to find what works best for you.
Kent has had the pleasure of sampling some local brews while in Australia: “I had a VB on the plane trip, and a couple of my favourites are the Bicycle Beer and Anytime Pale Ale by Temple Brewery.”
Event organiser Aussie Beer Milers Club describes itself as: “the hub of beer miling, beer runs and anything sportive that should be accompanied by beer”. The founder, former elite athlete Melissa Vandewater stated her passion for sport and beer led to a sponsorship with craft brewery Temple Brewery during her career. She’s taken part in Cider and Beer Miles over the years and felt it was time to bring this race to the masses in Australia. “For most it’s a ‘bucket list/must try that’ type of event but it has also evolved into a serious pursuit with athletes scoring contracts with big shoes brands like Adidas and Brooks”.
For more information visit beermilers.com.
UPDATE: Lewis Kent won the race in 4:51.11 (the fastest time recorded on Australian soil), beating Josh Harris, who ran 5:02.62. Claire Thomas set the Australian female record, finishing in 7:25.55.