For the last two years I’ve attended the Copenhagen Beer Celebration, a very popular craft beer festival held over a weekend in May. Organised by the Mikkeller Brewery, which has a running club with many chapters around the world, they were organising a Beer Mile which would be taking place at their new Barrel Room on the day after the festival.
I only discovered this whilst at the festival and well on my way through sampling the many 10%+ ABV beers on offer. Always up for a challenge, I committed to running the event, however bad I felt after the festival and subsequent post-festival shenanigans.
A Bit of History
The origins of the Beer Mile are not known but races have been documented in the 1980s and 90s. Beermile.com – the official resource for the race – has records of over 7,000 race and 100,000 entries although this is not a full list.
The race caught media attention in 2014 when James Nielsen became the firs to break the five-minute barrier. In the same year the inaugural Beer Mile World Championship was held in Austin, Texas. In 2016 Corey Bellemore smashed the world record in an incredible time of 04:34:35.
- Drink four cans and run four laps.
- Beer must be consumed before the lap is begun and within the 10 metre transition area.
- The race begins with drinking the first beer.
- Beer must be at least 355ml in volume and 5% ABV
- Competitiors who vomit before they finish the race complete a penalty lap.
Prior to the race you must estimate your finishing time which sounds easy based on what you can usually run but it’s hard factoring the drinking time and the fact that you probably won’t be able to run as fast as you usually would. Some back of a fag packet calculations and I put down 8 minutes. This put me in the 5th heat out of 6 in total with the elites competing in the sixth and the women having a heat of their own. This did meant that I’d be able to watch four other races and pick up tips on what to do and what not to do.
Being part of the Danish Open Championships, the event was accurately timed but it was clear that 99% of the people entering were her purely for the fun and enjoyment of drinking beer and running.
The time had come for me to rock up to the start line, claim my four cans and prepare for the unknown. At the gun everyone raced over to the table, selected their beers and started to chug. The beer was brewed specifically for the race and was slightly less carbonated and was slightly chilled. It wasn’t the best beer I’d had but I didn’t have enough time to savour it. I’ve no idea how long it took to down the beer but I as I set off the shock of drinking a beer so quickly planted a seed of doubt in my mind. Would I be able to down another beer so quickly? Would I be able to down another 3?!
In all heats there was a mix of abilities so as the runners headed off some were clearly quicker than others but they weren’t necessarily the quickest at downing a beer…and keeping said beer down. A tip I’d picked up was to try and force yourself to burp as you run around to remove any gas. Easier said than done!
Arriving for the second beer I tried a different approach of shorter, quicker sips. It was still a struggle although it was staying down. I could sense I was slowing down during the next lap and this continued during the third lap.
The final beer managed to go down well enough although by this point I was extremely bloated so the fourth lap became a real struggle during the first 100m but I managed to let out an almighty burp (really thought I was going to vomit and have to do another lap) which released a lot of pressure inside and allowed me to pick up the pace again.
That was one tough mile! Would I do it again? Of course!
Just like any other race, the atmosphere was very friendly and the usual awards were handed out for various age categories. The difference with this race was that after completing you are encouraged to drink even more beer and eat from the food trucks. We were fortunate to have perfect weather so an afternoon of drinking good beer and reflecting on the race was in order.