Canadian and U.S. competitors chug beers after the first lap of the 2015 Beer Mile World Classic on Angel Island near San Francisco. This year's event will be held on a track near London. Photo: Courtesy of Beer Mile World Classic
Dozens of the world’s top beer milers from the U.S. and Canada will be traveling across the Atlantic Ocean to compete against runners from at least five other countries in the second annual Beer Mile World Classic drinking race on July 31 near London.
About 300 runners from at least eight countries are expected to compete in the event at Saracens Stadium at Allianz Park, which features an eight-lane Mondo track that was used as a warm-up and practice track for athletes during the 2012 Olympics in London. That means the Beer Mile World Classic event will be the first world championship event held on a sanctioned track. (Last year’s Beer Mile World Classic was held on the paved roads on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, while the FloTrack Beer Mile World Championships were held on an auto racetrack in 2014 and in a paved parking lot in 2015.)
“We had a lot of issues trying to find an alternative venue in San Francisco, so we expanded our search,” says Nick Macfalls, one of the Beer Mile World Classic producers.
The beer mile has experienced a huge upswing in popularity in recent years. It consists of drinking one beer before running each lap of a mile on a track. In other words, each runner completes four beers and four laps in total.
What originated as something of a frat party stunt and an annual ritual for collegiate cross country teams has evolved into a global phenomenon, attracting professional-caliber athletes and millions of fans worldwide. The videos of the 2015 Beer Mile World Classic were viewed more than 3.5 million times—more than any single event video of the 2015 IAAF World Championship.
Up until now, beer-mile running has been dominated by Canadian, American and Australian athletes. The current world record run on a track is the 4:51.90 run last year by 23-year-old Canadian Lewis Kent, but he also ran 4:47.17 at the FloTrack World Championships. (American runner Garrett Cullen lowered the U.S. record on July 9 by running 4:54.52 at an event called the West Valley Track Club Summer Classic.)
Kent became the first professionally sponsored beer miler in 2015 when he signed on with Brooks. But British beer miler Andy Norman is confident the UK can “show the Yanks a thing or two about downing pints.”
Athletes on both sides of the pond have already begun rigorous training regimens to prepare. Canada’s Lianne Girard, currently ranked as the 6th fastest female beer miler in the world with a time of 6:42, says she’s spent the past few months “focusing on expanding the stomach.” Her training includes chugging 2 liters of water in under 1 minute and then drink-and-run 400-meter interval sessions with non-alcoholic beers.
The 2016 Beer Mile World Classic championship race will cap off an all-day beer, music and running festival, which will also include open races and relays for clubs, university teams and unaffiliated age-group runners.