Absurd Athletics

The Beer Mile is the most Wisconsin running event you’ve ever heard of

Nick Porisch

More stories from Nick Porisch

The Highlight Reel
May 10, 2023


Locals compete in the Eau Claire Snowshoe Beer Mile

This column has covered strange athletic events happening right here in Wisconsin before, but this week we’re covering a sport with an avid fanbase right here in Eau Claire.

The sport is also very, very Wisconsin.

Every August, Eau Claire locals gather at the Fox Run Tavern to compete in an increasingly popular running event known as the Beer Mile.

According to beermile.com, which is the self-proclaimed “official beer mile resource,” there are eleven rules to running an official beer mile.

Essentially, a beer mile is completed by running four laps around a 400-meter track, finishing one 12 ounce can of beer at the outset of every lap for a total of four beers and four laps. 

If a competitor vomits at any point during the race, they must complete an additional 400-meter lap, and the drinks must be a “fermented alcoholic beverage brewed from malted cereal grains and flavored with hops,” according to beermile.com’s rules.

There are a handful of other rules, especially regarding the types of beverage containers allowed, but the core of the sport’s regulations follow these main principles.

Side note: In case it isn’t clear yet, Beer Miles are entirely 21 and up athletic events.

This whole thing may seem like the kind of bizarre challenge a college track team might dream up during the summer track season, but that assumption isn’t far off. 

No one knows exactly where the sport originated, but it can be traced back to college campuses in New England and Florida.

Oddly enough, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also cites “running clubs in Indonesia” as another location of origin for the beer mile. The newspaper doesn’t elaborate further, and there doesn’t seem to be much additional information on Indonesia’s involvement in the sport’s creation.

That being said, the Beer Mile has grown exponentially since its humble beginnings, finding popularity around North America and beyond. Races are held everywhere from North Carolina to Alaska, Canada and, of course, Eau Claire.

Canada in particular has latched onto this alcoholic athletic achievement. They have an official national team, the aptly named Canada Beer Mile Team, and their own Corey Bellemore currently holds the event’s world record time.

Bellemore won the record in 2021 with a finishing time of 4:28.1 at the Beer Mile World Classic in Leigh, England.

According to beermile.com, the website has recorded over 4,300 official Beer Mile events around the world, and claims Beer Mile athletes have ran almost 50,000 collective miles and drank over 175,000 total beers.

Closer to home, local runners and beer enthusiasts competed in the 7th Annual Eau Claire Beer Mile this past August. According to race organizer Tim McManus, the race wasn’t “the hero we deserve, but absolutely the one we need right now!”

The event is hosted by a local running club, the Eau Claire Hash House Harriers, and listed 43 competitors on the official Facebook event page.

At this point, the Beer Mile might seem like a pretty quintessential Wisconsinite occurrence. A perfectly normal event, but with the addition of alcohol? It can’t really get much more Wisconsin than that, right?

Well, let me tell you about the other Beer Mile event held in Eau Claire. 

This one is held in the winter, and follows the same rules, except now, to help you get over the less than ideal weather conditions, you also complete the race with a set of snowshoes on your feet.

Yep, that’s about as peak Wisconsin as you can get.

Porisch can be reached at [email protected].