Beer Mile

beer mile by John Markell

A Beer mile is a drinking race combining running and speed drinking. Typically, the event takes place on a standard 400 meter or 1/4 mile running track. Each lap must be preceded by the drinking of a standard amount of beer, typically a 12-ounce can. Rules vary by region. One custom requires runners to prove they have finished their beer by inverting it over their heads before commencing a lap.

The standard rules published by are based on the most common rules used in North America. They specify that any competitor who vomits prior to finishing the race must complete a penalty lap immediately following the fourth lap. The penalty lap does not require the drinking of an additional beer. The standard rules also dictate that the beer be consumed directly from the pour of the can (i.e. tampering with the cans, such as ‘shotgunning,’ is not allowed). The beer used for the competition must also be full-strength, or at least 5.0% ABV. Hard ciders and other alcoholic beverages are generally not allowed.

A variation allows female competitors to begin the race without consuming a beer. This rule is often enacted to encourage participation from females. While full strength beer is generally the preferred beverage, some races allow consumption of alternative beverages such as light beer, malt beverages, or milk. In the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, an imperial pint (about 19-ounces) typically is consumed before every lap, with no specification of the drinking vessel but pint glasses are preferred for the speed in which the beverage can be finished. The one lap penalty for ‘chundering’ (vomiting) is not generally enforced.

The fastest recorded beer mile is as of April 28th, 2014, 4:57.7 completed by James Nielsen and he is now recognized as the current record holder, although he failed to show an empty can above his head before the first lap and the event was only witnessed and recorded by a close friend, hence post-production editing of the event could have occurred and the incorrect amount of beer taken. His beer of choice was Budweiser. The previous winner Josh Harris of Australia had a record of 5:04.9. Much like the four-minute barrier in the mile run, the five-minute barrier tempted beer-milers worldwide.

The beer mile is often combined with other ‘digestive athletics’ such as: ‘4 x 40 oz. relay’ (four-man relay teams run 100m each around the track, finishing a 40 oz. bottle of beer or malt liquor on the way), ‘Wild Turkey 2-mile’ (competitors run 8 laps, with a shot of whiskey before every lap), ‘Naked 4 x 400m’ (nude four-man relay, drinking is technically optional, but encouraged), and ‘The Pure Guts Race’ (variation of the North American beer mile which adds a fifth beer so you are starting and finishing with a chug, and vomiting is permitted and often employed as a strategy).

‘Kastenlauf’ (short for ‘Bierkastenlauf,’ literally ‘beer crate running’) also called Bier-Rallye or Bierathlon is a drinking sport in the German-speaking countries Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. It is a race among teams that consist of two people carrying a crate of beer, all of which must be consumed prior to crossing the finish line. The route is about 10 km long, although it can vary from half this to twice this. The name bierathlon is also used for a students’ event where participants have to drink a beer in a fixed order in a number of pubs of the city, which is certified by stamps.


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