I had a crazy plan while I was reading an issue of Runner’s World on the beach in late summer. There was a feature on a group of runners who had organized a beer run, which involved drinking four beers over the course of a mile. While I was reading it, the wheels started turning. This sounded like something I could plan with my friends. I chatted to Matt about it and we got to work on brainstorming. After looking into it, I learned there are secret beer mile events all over the country. There’s even a website featuring rules to host your own Beer Mile.
Matt and I have no shortage of friends who run, and who like beer. After picking out a date and recruiting some runners, it was time to start working on the details. We figured a post-race picnic would be necessary to give everyone a chance to sober up after the run. It would also give everyone a chance to hang out since the actual race part would only take a few minutes. We asked every participant for $10, which we used to buy the beer, post-race food and water, and finisher medals. What’s a race without a medal?
The first challenge was finding a course for this race. It isn’t exactly “legal” to be chugging beers in a public place. But I had an idea while I was doing a long run one afternoon. River Drive is closed to vehicles on weekends from April-October to accomodate runners and bikers. The course would provide the perfect amount of privacy needed for this kind of event. I planned it as an out and back that ended right across the street from a group of picnic tables.
On a whim, I started looking into runner bibs. I discovered through a forum on Runner’s World that a company called Road ID sponsors many local runs and provides free bibs in exchange for handing out brochures about them at your event. With a few clicks on a website, I got free bibs! This event just got more legit.
I woke up on beer mile morning and ran a 5k, of course. The MMRF Race for Research ended up being the same day, and I couldn’t skip it. So my morning was a bit of a rush. After finishing the race, picking up Matt, and buying a few giant hoagies very early in the morning from disgruntled Wawa employees, we headed to the start. I was very nervous about the parking and traffic situation, and was worried nobody would show up. We also had some last-minute cancellations, so I was definitely stressing. Much to my relief, our friends started to trickle in, and we headed to the starting line together.
We set up with a cooler at the finish line, the 1/2 mile mark, and the 1/4 & 3/4 mark. A volunteer manned each station to hand out beers and collect the trash. After going over the rules, 17 runners were ready to go. The rules are pretty easy. Start out running and drink a beer at the 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 mark, with a final chug at the finish line. We used a mix of Yuengling Light and Bud Light. No shotgunning. Hold the beer over your head upside down to show you’re done before leaving the beer station.
Everyone was pretty even coming into the first stop, but the chugging proved to be pretty difficult and separated everyone a bit. After leaving the first beer stop, almost everyone seemed to slow down a bit. I felt extremely full and kept belching as my stomach sloshed around the first beer. Each beer stop got a little tougher. I was only a tenth of a mile out of the first beer stop when Matt passed by on the route back! I couldn’t believe it. I kept going, losing a little bit of steam with each stop. Everyone looked like they were hurting at the end. I was the second female to cross the finish line, and if I was an excellent chugger, I would’ve had a shot at the trophy. But at that point, it was all I could do to finish the last beer.
After the race was over, I gave everyone their medal and awarded the top female (Kim) and male (Matt) with their customized steins. I’d call the inaugural beer mile a success. Next year I’m thinking we might add some relay teams. I’d also like to figure out a way to time everyone. Major thanks to all of the runners and volunteers who participated this year!