Practiced around the world and with many variations, the beer mile is a serious event with a few clear-cut rules (check beermile.com). Following the "Kingston Rules" protocol is the most common and widely accepted approach. Here are the basics. To start, one must drink a beer within the 10-meter transition zone before leaving for a lap (quarter mile); one must consume four cans of beer and run four laps with race ending when the first competitor crosses into the transition zone at the end of the fourth lap; each beer must be 12 ounces (355ml) and five percent alcohol by volume and cannot be tampered with in any way (no shot-gunning, pouring into cups, etc.); beers cannot be opened until the racer is in the transition area; vomiting at any point during the race results in a one lap penalty.
Perhaps most interesting was our competitors' choices of beers. Some opted for craft IPAs, reckoning that good taste would be appreciated halfway into the race. Others opted for warm Coors original, with the idea that it would easier to slurp down. Note that yellow fizzy favorites like Pabst, Hamms, Olympia and Rainier do not meet the five-percent alcohol criteria.
When the gun went off at our race, eventual winner Marty Leeto pounded his beer and charged into the lead with Daniel Dragoon nipping close at his heels during the first lap. Leeto, a professional triathlete, but amateur beer drinker, was unsure what to expect.
"The first corner was pretty painful. You're burping up stuff and yeah, you're not comfortable," he said.
Leeto, employing an open-throat technique like a seasoned pro, downed his second brew and was off, while Dragoon began to fade, uneasy about having to drink another can so soon. The others began to arrive at the transition area just as Leeto was leaving for his second lap.
The triathlete went largely unchallenged for the remainder of the race and finished in a respectable six minutes and two seconds, placing him third among Oregon beermilers (the current Oregon record is 5:31 and held by Nick "National Champ" Symmonds).
"It doesn't really matter how fast a runner you are, it's how fast you can pound that counts," a triumphant Leeto noted afterwards.
Though the champ did admit that "there was a huge amount of post-race vomiting."
As stated above, there are many variations to the "Kingston Rules," some quite hilarious.
Here are our favorites:
- 3000-Meter Vodka Steeple Chase (seven shots and a standard 3-k steeple chase)
- 4 x 40 beer relay (four team members, one 40-ounce beer and one lap per person)
- Beer Half Marathon (13 beers in 13 miles)
- Renaissance Mile (one mile, solve a Rubiks cube, drink 40 ounces of malt liquor, dunk a basketball on a regulation rim, play Chopin's Minute Waltz, eat a pint of ice cream, any order)