As anyone who has played pick-up hoops at a cookout knows, it’s extremely hard to perform athletic feats after a few beers. That’s why the Beer Mile may be the holy grail of drunken sports—beautiful in its simplicity, yet difficult to master.
The rules are simple: Run four laps on a 400 meter track, stopping only to chug a 12-ounce can of beer (no bottles or straws allowed) before each lap. The brews must be at least 5%-ABV, and you’ll be disqualified if you puke.
Runner James Nielsen of Novato, CA set a new world record on April 27, 2014, when he ran the first-ever sub-five-minute Beer Mile, clocking in at a swift 4:57.
Nielsen was a two-time NCAA 5,000-meter champion at UC-San Diego. He’s competed in several other more serious running events, but this achievement may be the one that defines his career.
In an interview with Runner’s World, Nielsen broke down his training regiment and explained that the biggest challenge for runners chugging beer is the carbonation.
“There are 2.6 liters of carbon dioxide in one can of beer…You multiply that by four, you’re looking at about 10 liters of gas in your stomach, which is completely unmanageable. That’s why everyone starts to throw up or belch often, to get that gas out of there. What you want to do is warm up the can of beer to get the gas on top of the liquid, so that when you open it, you release as much as you can.”
To increase his tolerance for running with a belly full of fizzy liquid, Nielsen substituted Pepsi and Coke during weekday training runs. On weekends, he used cans of Budweiser—the same beer he chose to drink for the actual Beer Mile run.
Luckily for us, Nielsen’s wife recorded the whole thing and posted the video on YouTube. His kids were also there, cheering dad on to glory. We hope Budweiser is already talking to him about a commercial—the video hit more than one million views in the first three days it was up.