Friday, July 15, 2011

2011 Eugene Beer Mile - Official Race Report

About a week or so ago, I heard via the Book-Face about a Beer Mile in town, hosted by one of my favorite master's runners/hashers, Todd Bosworth.  I'd participated in some soda miles back when I was a high school coach.  They were a blast to run, and I did pretty well.  In fact, I feel that was the first glimpes of potential as an ultra-runner: the ability to "fuel and run" without consequence.  But I'd never ran a true beer mile:  4 beers, 4 laps.

I've been dealing with some right foot and ankle issues this past week, and my status was unknown.  But ultimately I decided to run: like AJW, I'm a sucker for any competition, especially those that combine some of my favorite things.

Per contest rules, we were allowed to choose our own beer, provided it was >5% ABV.  I chose Oskar Blues' Mama's Little Yella Pils -- a terrific, golden pilsner.  Like most Oskar offerings, it is an exquisite beer that is highly-rated.  It also comes in a can, which is prime for speed drinking.

The race was initially slated for Lane Community College, but RD Bosworth - citing an issue with campus officials -- changed it to "a different location" just ten minutes before the 9PM start time.  No problem.  A large convoy of vehicles rolled into town to the new track.

By the time we all relocated, it was near-dark.  Thankfully we had two additional light sources -- lights from the adjacent softball field, and a full moon -- that only enhanced the excitement of the event.

Entrants for the race numbered two dozen!  They included runners of all ages and abilities: some of the local Hashers, some younger "kids" and post-collegiates, and three of the "Eug Crew" WS veterans: myself, Lord Balls, and Lewis Taylor.  Dan-O came out, but only to watch, conceding he'd "walk and drink" instead -- I think he's still tired from all that sterling silver polishing...  There were rumblings that a former WS champion was entertaining the thought of racing, but unfortunately that never materialized. 

I was pumped, so much so that I got into "pre-race mentality" -- excited, impatient, slightly insufferable (" get this way for hundred milers, and like 50-yards?" - Britt).  I was ready to go, even sporting my '00 model adidas spikes, which hadn't seen action since at least 2008. 
The Start - with LB in the blue singlet.

Todd read the rules and prepped the crew for the 1609m race.  After a slight "false-start" ("crack and sip") by half the field, we readied ourselves, and at the "GO", there was a chorus of "clunks" and "chugs".  Bottom's up!

I made OK time on my first beer -- slowed by both excitement and forgetfulness on the keys to fast drinking -- letting the mouth fill to the max, then big, deep swallows. On my 4th pull, the front runner emerged -- Luke Vaughn? -- and took off.  Two quick pulls later, I was gone, spiking my can in the garbage and taking off.

There are many keys to a fast beer mile, but the most important is "The Burp".  If you can release some CO2, you can run much easier.  Two burps on the first corner and I was off.

Man, did it feel great to run fast!  Spikes always enhance that sensation, but the stride felt amazing tonight.  I was a good 80m behind Vaughn but I was able to cut that to 10m by the half-lap, then pull even on the home straight.

Another strategy: controlled running on the approach.  If you dead-sprint into "the can", you'll be too out of breath to drink.  I kept it easy into the "transition zone" for this reason, but Can #2 still did not go down well -- foam, a cough -- before I was able to re-focus on "fill and swallow".  Four big swallows and I was done, but not before Vaughn again got out before me, with an even bigger lead.  Damn!

Can #2 - struggling a bit...

This time I really hammered to catch-up, and I feared it'd be a very tough second half if this kept up.  However, once I rounded the first corner, I saw him ahead, shuffling in lane two.  What's the deal?  I catch him quickly, only to find him, fist to mouth, gagging.  Uh-oh.  Any vomiting results in a one-lap penalty.  I shoot past.  Long strides!  Stride still felt incredible!  What a blast!
Cruising into the last lap - obtaining my can from my Crew Chief, Britt.

I shoot into the transition zone for Can #3: it went down quick: four deep pulls and I was off.  I heard rumblings that Vaughn wasn't far behind, so I pushed it as hard as I could.  I tried to visualize not vomiting and fast, relaxed running.  I also lost track: how many laps left?  Only one?  Just one more beer? This is awesome!

Pulling into the final transition zone for the final can, LB and Taylor were there, still on Can #3!  So much for fast Aid Station transitions! I made quick work of that last can, then pushed it.  My lead was solid, so I focused on "keeping it together" and retaining those 48oz of pilsener below my gullet.  I rounded the final turn and sprinted to the finish.

2011 Eugene Beer Run Champion!  Final time: 6:15.  Official results HERE.

Kudos to all the competitors, and to the female winner Jordyn Smith (an exellent "normal runner") for her impressive showing! Kudos to LB and Lewis for finishing -- though Mr Balls had to run a 2K due to three "reversals of fortune". 

Overall, it was a total blast to run this, and it reminded me of how much I enjoy (and miss) faster running.  I hope to do more of that -- and some more beer+running-related competitions, in the future!  I would love to see what a guy like FastEd could do in this event; perhaps he'd like to swing out here in November for a Beer Mile Challenge, akin to the LB/AJW annual event?


  1. OK, now I feel bad about missing this. my lame excuse is the bursting pregnant wife at home who gonna go into labor any minute. PLEASE do this again and with an obstacle course and head spinning on bats (only way to level the playing field).

  2. @Pete - it was a BLAST! Your excuse is worthy; probably would be a bit "selfish" to let your 8.9-month pregnant mother of one at home while you're getting "a buzz on", pounding 4-beers in 6-10 minutes! But yes, another time. I'll keep you posted on guarantees about bat-spinning.

  3. Now THAT is a stout time! I think that beats HK doesn't it? Man I would love to be there in November. I need to beat AJW at something....

  4. @FastEd: Like I said, most fun since WS (and a lot less painful!). I think you'd fare well at this event.

    Per a BEER mile between AJW and LB: I think AJW would crush him, only because of AJW's superior beer-drinking skills, coupled with Craig's propensity to "refund". However, I don't think we'll see their pure mile race turn into a beer run anytime soon...not enough "pure competition", I don't think. But an event such as this would be good to keep in mind in the future...if we could somehow get all together again!