Beer and running are undoubtedly a match made in heaven. But for most runners, the idea is a couple of cold drafts to refresh and reward after a run. For a few hardy folk, though, the beers and running happen concurrently.

Welcome to the world of the beer mile.

On 31 July the Beer Mile World Classic came to London. And with the event came a roll-call of top class ‘beer milers’. Not that the event was just for the elite. Everyone was welcome to test themselves against the clock and the physical challenge of running hard whilst quaffing beer.

Editor Simon was invited to join Josh Muxen, flown over by the organisers from the US west coast specially, to form a pair of co-hosts on the day, which started with the open rounds before moving on to the much anticipated elite races.

On the day

The venue was perfect – the Allianz Stadium is used to beer drinking as the home of rugby union team Saracens. With a top quality 400m track around the pitch, a great sound system and all the seating the spectators and competitors could possible need, all that was required was decent weather. Which was forthcoming. Slightly overcast but warm with very little wind, everything was ready.

The race itself is simple. Runners walk through the ‘chug zone’ which is the 9m before the start line on the track. Each runner needs to drink a beer and drop the empty container in a crate before running 400m. They do this four times so they drink 4 beers and run 4 x 400m – a mile – in the race. At the end each runners beer containers are collected and anything left in them is measured. Over 4 fluid ounces and the runner is disqualified. Oh and if the runner can’t hold their beer in for all four laps they have to run a penalty lap at the end.

The races

From where we were standing it looked as though some of the less experienced beer milers had underestimated the challenge. There were quite a number of ‘reversals of fortune’ which resulted in penalty laps being run.

Amongst the elite runners, who had travelled from the USA, Canada, Australia, Sweden and of course from all over the UK, the races were run at lightening speed. The winners of the women’s race – Erin O’Mara from the US – ran a brilliant 6 min 43 seconds for her win. In the men’s elite race Canadian Corey Bellemore, smashed the world record with an astonishing 4 minutes 34 seconds. For a mile. With four beers.

All in all, it was a raucous, fun event that highlighted that serious runners often don’t take themselves too seriously. We’ll certainly raise a beer to these athletes. We just might wait until after the run before we do.

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