For years, everyone has been telling me to do a beer mile. Combining two of my favorite activities, this event is seemingly tailor-made for me. It’s a simple concept – chug a beer and run 400 meters, repeat times four. The 400 meters is probably one of my best events too – the less endurance involved the better for me, one hundred percent blue shoe kick. And theoretically, a nearly 6’3”” 190 pound Irish dude who loves beer should be able to handle 4 beers like it’s nothing, right?
Wrong. As a silly genetic joke, I was bequeathed the alcohol tolerance of a 90 pound freshman sorority girl. One beer = fine, Two beers = fine. Three = OK but probably going to mess up my sleep. Four = headaches and cotton mouth, Five plus = probably praying to the porcelain god. Obviously my therapeutic window for alcohol is ridiculously small, which is only amplified by my 5’3” wife, who can drink me under the table any day of the week. Seriously, she hardly ever drinks but don’t let her near a bottle of moscato on girls night out. On like donkey kong.
So 4 beers in 10 minutes is going to be a stretch for me. And I never chug beers, since I really don’t want to give my pansy ass liver too much to handle.
But hey, why not give it a shot? I was glad Bobby Scott finally got a good venue for this event, since nailing down a good running route and/or sponsors is a difficult thing for beer miles. Last year, I believe he held it on the Cayce block where he lived. The classic beer mile is on a track. But most tracks are at high schools or middle schools, and as it turns out most schools are not ok with a bunch of adults chugging and puking on the premises. Sponsors are not too keen on equating their business with drunken debauchery either. I know – no fun at all. But Swamp Cabbage Brewery was ideal, because, one, they are obviously ok with beer drinking, and two, lots of barely traveled roads nearby to set up a course. Score.
Once I signed up I had some decisions to make. Choice of beer is critical. Rules state that the beer has to be 5 percent alcohol or higher, which pretty much rules out all the light beers. That took out my go-to low gravity brew Amstel Light. They say stouts and porters are less carbonated and thus easier to get down, but I’m not a fan of either, and chugging thick beer sounded like a recipe for the pukes. I love IPAs, but these are mostly higher gravity, and I obviously have a very small margin of error in the alcohol content department. I finally settled on Heineken. Sitting right at 5.0 percent and pretty bland, I figured a Hiney was perfect for the beer mile. I read that you want the beer to be cool but not ice cold, since colder beer apparently has more carbonation. I got the beer out an hour ahead of time and put it in an iceless cooler, and figured that would work.
Thankfully the Code, who doesn’t drink, agreed to be my designated driver. I assured him the entertainment value of watching me suffer would more than pay him back for the job. Stacy also came along to witness the disaster in the making.
Apparently the spectacle that is the beer mile brought out a lot of people. There were 40 registered but probably double that on hand just to watch. I did a quick informal beer survey, looked like a lot of Bud variations, some Heineken, a left hand milk stout, some wicked weed napoleon complex, and some glutton for punishment with an orange chocolate stout. Jeezus.
Conditions were surprisingly hot, but I didn’t dare drink any water to preserve vital stomach space. Half of our Ville to Ville relay team, CAREBEERS, was on hand with Drew Williams looking for the overall win and Matt McGrievy absolutely rocking the porn stache like only he can. Liz Locke looked to be the early favorite on the women’s side, having traded beer mile wins in Columbia and Charleston with last year’s champ Ashley Hrubala, who was sitting this one out. Derek Hutton, last year’s men’s winner, was nursing an injury and was on spectator duty only, so new champions would be crowned that day.
Other familiar faces among the competitors included Gena and Caleb Ochal, David Nance, Jessica Weaver, Ian “IT’S LOCK-LIN” Loughlin, Chris Beattie and the RD himself Bobby “dare to wear short shorts” Scott. Trackstar Eddie Crisanto signed up late and was talking smack. I told him he was going down. As noted, there was a large spectating contingent with Mario Alvarez, Jim Williams, Pam Nadolski, Kana Rahman, Matt Havens with an appropriately large RUI entourage, Sheila and Ken Bolin, Jay and Joyce Welch, Kristen Loughlin, the newly minted Mrs. Jenny Nance, also newly minted CRC prez Roy Shelley and of course my designated drivers Code and Stacy Ohrin. Rick Gibbons and Sabrina Gandy were volunteering. Tracy Tisdale / Jedi Runner Photography was on hand to document the event.
Set up was basically a 400 meter track squished onto a 200 meter section in front of Swamp Cabbage. The beer table was in the front of the brewery with turnaround cones 100 meters on both sides. You turn right, round the first set of cones, run all the 200m all way to the second cones, turn around and back to the beer table. We lined up a few meters back from the street for the start, first beer in hand, where I nervously awaited my fate. Goal one was not to puke, which gives you a one lap penalty, and goal two was to break ten minutes. My mile time is around 5:20-5:30 but no way was I sprinting with that much liquid on board, or it would be a 1.25 miler for sure.
With the start, I crack open my first Hiney and start chugging away. I’m thirsty, it’s going down fast, and I’m going to crush this thing. But wait…. why is everyone screaming at me, and WHERE IS EVERYBODY?? Turns out my idea of crushing a beer is also about as weak as a 90 lb freshman sorority girl. As I finish off the last bit of foam I am literally the last person out of the gate. WTF?? I run a little harder than I thought just to get to the back of the pack. I’ve barely started and I can see Drew and McGrievy already making the turn. Man, I suck at this. There’s lots of burps, and I’m still stiff as hell from the Healthy Capital 5k (that morning) and from not really warming up much.
After putting on the jets a bit I’m still near the back of the pack when I crash into the beer area again. I almost had to stiff arm some people blocking the table. DO NOT BLOCK THE HINEY FROM THE SASQUATCH. Chugging this time, I try changing the angle of the bottle and holding my breath more. Probably a little faster. Still slow. The run definitely sucks this time with a full slosh effect going on in the belly. I slow it down to about 5k-10k pace, and basically spend the entire lap burping. Slowly making up ground on the pack.
Probably as an effect of the 2 pounded beers, this one goes down a lot faster, and feels like I just poured it directly into the roiling stew brewing in my gullet. Feels like I’m running with a milk gallon on my waist, but then again, I’m used to carrying excess weight. Nearing the first cones I see Liz, who has taken it out hard, paying the price with a penalty lap in process. Yuck. Rounding the turn I’m staying with 10k pace. I see Jessie Weaver who looks like she is experiencing a cross of extreme pain or sorrow, or perhaps both. Probably appropriate. I’m having a hard time keeping up the burping until I rip an epic one right in front of my presidential predecessor Rick Gibbons, volunteering at the second cones. “THANKS FOR THAT”. Lol.
Mildly buzzed, beer number four goes down pretty smoothly. With one breath in between chugs, I see Drew coming in for the finish but getting epically blue shoed by a guy with a HTR T shirt. Oof, that was rough. Fourth lap looks like a war zone near the beer area with lots of fresh penalty lap material all around. Trying not to look at it. Especially the subway sub one. Jeezus H, what did that guy eat? Running feels better on the last lap because there are no pukesies to be felt and no more Hiney to be had. I feel pretty good until I see McGrievy on the sideline “good jobbing” me. WTF, he’s already done??? Damn, he almost lapped me. One more pass of the second cones, and I see Alex Wilcox, i.e. the younger, better-looking Alex, and I turn on the blue shoe mojo. I crank it up to full sprint, and pass him just before the finish….as he continues on. I guess he had a penalty lap. Oh well, can’t turn down a good blue shoeing.
9:25 official time. 12th overall out of 41. No pukesies. I’ll take it. Better than having to take a troll poop in the woods under a bridge like last week. I thought I’d be wrecked after this, but I guess the liver manned up and actually processed that quart and a half of macrobrewed swill pretty well. Mild buzz and I felt ok afterward.
As mentioned, the HTR runner Danny Ferriera smoked Mr. Williams at the finish for the win in 7:31. Drew did get 1st male masters and 2nd in 7:32. The surprise for me was McGrievy. His chug skills are apparently frat boy level, and he was first out of the beer zone almost every time according to the spectators. He was apparently in the overall lead until getting passed twice in the last lap, taking 3rd overall. In the women’s race, Liz had the extended pukesies and the surprise winner was Janie Campbell in 9:14. Triathlete Christina McCarthy took on a fourth discipline and claimed 1st female masters/2nd overall in 10:39. Gena Ochal was 3rd in 11:31.
Notable finishers: Eddie apparently deposited his five dollar footlong on the road and had to suffer the shame of getting beat by the Sasquatch due to his penalty lap. I see Tony Morales in the results and I swear the guy was in high school, but apparently he graduated in 2014, so it’s just my dementia setting in. Loughlin was the chocolate stout dude, which was not only 6+ ABV but 16 ounces, I believe. And he had a post-race beer. I can’t compete with that. Jessie Weaver won the race face category en route to a penalty lapped 15:51, probably never to drink a white zombie ever again.
Overall a really fun event and I hope to be back next year. Great job, Bobby Scott, Swamp Cabbage and all the volunteers in putting this on. All photo credits to Jedi Runner Photography / Tracy Tisdale.