Frozen Vertical Beer Mile …a lot like Leadville

For my Festivus grand finale for the year, I set out with 10 other crazy trail runners to attempt the first ever Vertical Beer Mile. While the traditional Beer Mile is run on a flat track, we figured that an uphill mile would be more appropriate to run ours uphill. And to top it off, the weather cooperated nicely with a gnarly 10 degrees and a fresh dump of ankle deep snow. Perfect!

Several of us planned to attempt the full Beer Mile and we had one Light Beer division participant and the first ever Women’s Light Beer Mile Relay Team. We gathered our group together at the trail head and set off into the fresh snow with frozen feet to stake out our course which would be 1 full mile with a steady, relentless climb of 700 feet. A penalty quarter (for puking before the finish line) would add another 220 feet.

At the start, despite feeling a bit under trained I was feeling fairly confident. The jog up the hill to stake out the course and set out our beers on the quarter marks was just enough to warm up the feet and fingers so this was looking like it might be a delightful run in fresh holiday snow.

From the start, I managed to down my first beer in 35 seconds flat and got a jump on Nick. I managed to hold my lead making it to the first quarter mark in 3:10 where I started to have some trouble. The second beer didn’t go down quite as smoothly and I began to worry that I had gone out just a bit too hard. I wasn’t having any trouble keeping up a decent pace running but the beer was foaming and bubbling up horribly and just would not go down easily. It took a full 2 minutes to get the second beer down during which time Nick was in and out in a flash and Alex had a jump on me headed to the next stop. My pace on the 2nd quarter slowed considerably to a 3:50 split as I backed off the effort in an attempt to ease the frothing and foaming. I caught Nick and Alex at the 3rd beer stop while Nick was already on his way out and Alex was still looking strong. At this point I was in serious trouble. The beer was going down like a mentos in coke and every gulp foamed right back up. Alex managed to get a few steps out before the retching started and I let out the first projectile spray of beer. With a penalty quarter due, I was out of the official race to make it to the podium in the top 3 so I continued to alternate gulping, retching, and spraying until beer number 3 was down in a whopping 3:51. On the 3rd quarter I got the legs moving again and realized that running hard uphill in the dark in ankle deep snow was quite a delightful break between powering down frothy beer. I covered the 3rd quarter in a steady 4:47 and proceeded to work through the last beer. At this point I was just focusing on finishing the race. At this stop Scott, Celeste, Brian, and the women’s relay team caught up and I decided that since my race was done for, I might as well try to share the fun with everyone else. So after a couple strong gulps, I let loose an impressive spray for the spectators. The last beer finally went down in 4:47 …probably a few seconds over the world record. I ran the final quarter in 3:33 and the last penalty quarter in 4:01 for a total time of 29:10 in 1.25 miles and 920 vertical feet. We’ll have to check the official records but I’m pretty sure that even with my penalty quarter, I still beat Scott.

This definitely wasn’t my best racing performance. I might blame the penalty quarter and overall slow time on the beverage choice. It may not have been the best idea to go with the Oskar Blues Mamma’s Little Yella Pils. Alex seemed to do just fine with Fat Tire but all the other participants thought the standard macro brews – Bud and Coors were the best choices. Looking back I probably could have run a smarter race by pacing myself from the start. But sometimes in racing you just have to go for it. Getting a quick jump off the starting line and taking the lead from Mr October for the first quarter was definitely worth it.

This was almost as unpleasant as the Leadville 100. Based Alex’s strong finish, I think he’ll do extremely well this year and Celeste is definitely a prime candidate to run the LT100. For anyone training for the Leadville 100, I would recommend making the vertical beer mile a regular part of your weekly schedule.

Some photos from Nick:

  • Mary

    December 31st, 2010

    By the 4th paragraph I was laughing out loud, repeatedly, and think I enjoyed your commentary more than the actual event. Almost.

  • Rob

    January 1st, 2011

    I think with a full year of specific training, you will get redemption at next year’s beer mile. Better start with a different beer choice.

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