Beer mile mania has hit a new high—or, more specifically, a new low when it comes to times—following two new world records that appear to have been set within 24 hours this weekend. The apparent new marks were followed by a flurry of comments, congratulations, and speculation about whether the records will stand. On Friday, August 7, Australian Josh Harris, 25, posted a YouTube video of himself finishing a beer mile in 4:56.2 during a solo run. His time beat the previous official record set by James Nielsen, of Novato, California, whose 4:57.1 from April 2014 marked the first-ever sub-five beer mile. “New beer mile world record, baby,” a smiling Harris said to the camera following his finish.
But that record soon seemed to go down as well, all the way across the globe. On August 7, as the sun set on a track in the city of Mississauga, Ontario, 21-year-old Lewis Kent shaved off about half a second from Harris’ time, finishing in 4:55.78 and blowing away the competition among a group of 15 or so fellow beer milers.
Both times are awaiting official verification on BeerMile.com, which still lists Nielsen’s time as the world record. Meanwhile, posts on the group’s Facebook page, as well as Tweets, declared Harris’ time as the new mark, which was then subsequently broken by Kent’s. One possible point of controversy that’s already being noted among various online commenters: the remaining beer in some of the bottles of each runner. The woman filming Harris’ attempt holds up each bottle to the camera, while one of the attendees at Kent’s event carefully lines up his bottles on the edge of the track, which are shown in the video. Patrick Butler, one of the individuals behind BeerMile.com, has told Runner’s World Newswire that “the dregs of four fully-chugged beers usually result in about ‘one finger’ of total liquid … We might make that a rule soon.” Regardless of what time will stand as the new world record, the recent attempts have amped up the anticipation for the inaugural Beer Mile World Classic to be held August 22 in San Francisco. Organized by Nielsen, John Markell (one of the event’s founders), and race producer Nick MacFalls, the event will bring together some of the top beer milers in the world, including Harris, Kent, and Brian Anderson, who recorded the fifth-fastest time of 5:05 on Sunday, according to MacFalls. On the women’s side, beer mile pioneer Seanna Robinson, who held the world record for 17 years, and current world record holder Chris Kimbrough are among the top competition. Open registration is also available to runners of legal drinking age for the event. For now, though, Kent is savoring his moment in the beer mile spotlight. He said the various media reports and social media posts following Harris’ new record served as strong motivation for his attempt, which was part of a group beer mile that was planned about a month ago with his local running club. “I thought I lost my opportunity to ever hold the world record,” Kent told Runner’s World Newswire. “But honestly, seeing all the articles and all the media attention and just reading them got me so fired up.”
Kent’s effort got his fellow beer milers fired up, too, who seemed unaware that he was headed for the record books until someone yelled out his time of 4:30 in his final stretch. The lighthearted laughing (and occasional vomiting) that can be heard in the background soon switched to spirited cheering for Kent as he made a dash for the finish.“All the forums are going nuts, and everybody is talking about this,” he said of the recent attempts. “It’s the perfect time to get the beer mile back in everyone’s head before the event.”