A Canadian man has won the first-ever Beer Mile World Classic, a competition that combines two great athletic pursuits: sprinting and chugging beer.
Lewis Kent, a 21-year-old student at University of Western Ontario, took home the gold medal at the inaugural world championship in San Francisco.
For those unfamiliar with Beer Mile, it goes something like this. Athletes start off the one-mile race by chugging a full-sized beer in either can or bottle, then run a quarter-mile, and repeat the process. In the end, athletes will have chugged four beers—and hopefully not thrown up along the way. (Because that could mean a penalty lap!)
Going into the race, Kent was feeling confident. Earlier this month, he broke the world record with a time of 4:55.78, beating the former record by Australian Josh Harris of 4:56.2.
From the get-go, this was Kent’s race. He chugged his first beer—an imported bottle of Toronto-made brew, Amsterdam Blonde—and ran to the second chugging zone with a narrow lead. By the time Kent downed his second beer, he already had a couple seconds lead on his competitors, a gap that grew through the last half-mile of the race. In the end, Kent finished at 5:07.7, followed by American Brian Anderson at 5:14.7, and fellow Canadian Jim Finlayson, 5:16.6.
With Kent and Finlayson’s podium finishes, Team Canada won the team competition.
“This was my shot to represent my country,” Kent said in an interview with ESPN after the race. “I’ll probably never get to do that in [non-beer mile] running. I probably could have done a 5:05 if I had been pressed.”
While Kent finished with a giant smile on his face, some of his competitors were not as lucky. American James Nielsen, who once held the world-record, was eventually disqualified for leaving a total of four-ounces of beer left in his discarded cans. Nielsen cites warm beer as part of the reason for his sub-par performance.
“When I opened up the first beer, it was really warm and foamed up all over my hand. I didn’t have a good feeling about it. It turned out to be a complete disaster,” Nielsen said to ESPN.
Harris, who held the world record prior to Kent, also hit a roadblock early on in the race. During his second beer-chug, Harris vomited, which resulted in a penalty lap.
As for Kent, it’s a race that he’ll never remember—no matter how many beers he drank after in celebration.
“You see it so many times, the Olympic guy running to the finish line with a big lead, smiling and waving. Now I know why they’re smiling. This means everything to me.”