The underground competitive drinking contest known as the Beer Mile had a milestone event on Treasure Island Saturday, with the Beer Mile World Classic bringing the drinking game's world record holders together for their first-ever head-to-head competition on the same track. SFist was on the scene, and even competed (poorly) in this mile-long race in which runners must chug an entire 12-ounce beer each quarter mile. “This is the Beer Mile of the century,” race co-producer Nick MacFalls told SFist before the race. “We have seven of the top ten fastest [Beer Milers] ever. We have the last four world record holders. We have three of the four guys to break five minutes.”

Even with all of the elite runners flown in from around the world, more than 300 regular boozebags like me also ran in the Beer Mile amateur heats. Saturday’s racers left it all on the track, often including the content of our stomachs.


Beer Milers refer to vomiting as a “reversal of fortune”, and cookie-tossers are forced to run a penalty lap. The first retch of the day was committed by Bushbaby (above left) who did indeed run the race in a penguin pajama onesie. “I was basically just glad that I could open the field for everyone else to puke afterwards and feel comfortable about doing that,” Bushbaby told SFist.

Drinking four beers while sprinting a mile proved far more difficult than many of the runners had anticipated. “I’m a runner, so why not have four beers while I run?” competitor Jessica “Squibber” Otero told SFist after her race. When I asked Squibber her time, her friend informed us that it took her twenty minutes. “Bullshit! Twenty minutes?”, she protested.

“It was pretty bad, baby,” her friend said.

Image: Joe Kukura

My Beer Mile effort was pretty bad, too — it took me 10:34 and I lost to a guy who was juggling rubber balls the entire mile. But I held my puke until after I crossed the finish line, so I was not assessed the penalty lap. “Go feed the fish, Fat Elvis!” race announcer Josh Muxon taunted me as I staggered to relieve my stomach into the bay.

But the elite men’s and women’s fields offered outstanding Beer Mile performances, and the videos below show how the pros do it. “We’ve got the best Beer Milers in the world puking it out,” said elite men’s racer James Nielsen (USA), the first runner ever to do a Beer Mile in under five minutes. “Everyone is in peak running shape and peak drinking shape.”

A Beer Mile is the most hilariously slow-starting race you’ve ever seen. Runners must pound the contents of the whole 12-ounce beer before beginning their run. Here we see the opening gun of Saturday’s elite men’s race, with the runners’ short-shorts reflecting their nations of origin.

With each quarter-mile lap, racers must fight the urge to puke and chug yet another beer. Just look at the form of Lewis Kent (CAN), who finishes his third lap/beer and still shows flawless chugging technique. Not so for former world record holder Josh Harris (AUS), who loses his lunch and the race along with it with a reversal of fortune at the :31 mark.

The boozy Canadian Kent did not break his world record time of 4:55, but he still won the inaugural Beer Mile World Classic with a 5:07. “A lot of guys can set world records, but they can’t win at world champs,” Kent said after the race. “I didn’t want that to my name. So I proved I’m the best in the world right now.”

The women’s elite heat, featuring Bay Area track stars Lyndsay Harper (Berkeley) and Tori Tyler (Los Altos), was won by Caitlin Judd (Charleston, S.C.) with a 6:48 time.

But the real prize should have been awarded to Fred Carter, who spent his afternoon tending to the vomit buckets situated by the track’s beer chugging station. “It sucks. Don’t stand behind the bucket,” Carter told me, just before the men’s elite race. “So far we’ve had about ten [vomiters] which is not bad. More men than women.”

“It’s usually just foam,” MacFalls insisted.

MacFalls and the other Beer Mile organizers should be proud of an event well done, considering the challenges of getting the city to OK a drunken puke race. “The permitting process was very difficult,” MacFalls told SFist. “We had a lot of rejections.”

The same could be said for the runners’ stomachs at Saturday’s race.

Image: Joe Kukura