Local breweries have recently embraced the latest ritual in the Church of the Holy Suds—the Beer Mile. It combines two great activities: running and drinking beer. Many breweries designate a certain night of the week for a beer run; participants meet at the brewery, run a specific course, then meet back at the brewery for post-run beers. In the annals of sporting events since man moved competitively against his fellow hunter/gatherers, there’s one run that’s so brutal, so taxing, runners revere those who’ve posted the best times.
What’s a beer run? It goes like this: Runners must consume a beer, run a quarter-mile, consume another beer, run another quarter-mile-do this two more times, until four beers have been drunk and four quarter-miles have been run. Get it? Four quarter-miles equal … uh … a mile.
The origins of this phenomenon have been shrouded in the mists of time, but it’s widely accepted the sudsy sport began on college campuses in Florida and New England. Variations also appeared in England, Indonesia and Canada. The earliest recorded races were held in the late 1980s and early ’90s, when runners played fast and loose with the rules. A group of runners in Ontario, Canada set down rules that have become the accepted guidelines for most beer run enthusiasts.
Kingston Rules created a standard allowing runners everywhere to measure their performances against others’ efforts. In abbreviated form, the rules are: Each runner must drink four beers and run four quarter-miles. The entire beer must be consumed before a lap begins. The race begins when the first beer is opened. Competition beers must be 5 percent or more alcohol, canned, with a standard opening-no wide-mouths, etc. No shotgunning. You must run a penalty lap if you hurl before the race is over.
Myriad deviations on the Kingston Rules are legion. For instance, in the U.K., runners must drink an Imperial pint-20 ounces of beer-and may do so from a glass. There’s no penalty for puking. This is called a chunder mile. There’s also a steeplechase beer mile, with 16 barriers and four water pits.
Website beermile.com publishes an extensive FAQ on the sport, along with the more-or-less accepted rules for North America. The gist of it is to run a mile while drinking four beers. You must follow a pattern: drink, quarter-mile run, drink, quarter-mile run, drink, quarter-mile run, drink, stumble to the finish line. A runner must drink the first beer before he or she begins to run and must complete each ensuing beer before continuing the run. If a runner can’t hold down the brew, they must run a penalty lap. Beer must be drunk from a standard 12-ounce can, with no alterations or “Easy Pour” mouths-“shotgunning” is strictly prohibited. Beer must be 5 percent ABV or higher to qualify as competition suitable. The entire endeavor is timed and the winner is celebrated at the end.
So far, the fastest officially recorded beer mile was run in 4:33.6 by Canadian Corey Bellemore; a seemingly miraculous feat never to be beaten. Hey, bartender … or is it coach? Draw three more!