If you think chugging four beers while running the fastest mile you can sounds like a bad idea, you’re not alone. And not just because of all the vomiting. Some organizers of beer miles are also worried about possibly getting sued.
Though the beer mile has become a hot sporting event over the past couple years, Runner’s World recently looked into how some organizations that sponsor these races -- which typically require runners to chug a 12-ounce beer before every quarter lap of a mile – have been stressing that the beer chugging is actually optional, a move the running website describes as “aimed at promoting runner safety – and deterring litigation.”
“Runner safety is something we take very seriously,” National Beer Mile co-creator Rob Goldstein told Runner’s World. “People are under no obligation to drink all of the beer.” Indeed, as the group stipulates on its website, “The beers provided during the one-mile course are completely voluntary and each participant is limited to one (1) beer at each station. Water will be available at each beer station and we encourage everyone to party responsibly with us.”
Of course, there’s already an event where you can run the mile without chugging beers; it’s called the mile. Without any specific rules guiding the amount people are required to drink, it’s hard to accurately compare times. For that reason, the most serious events, like the Beer Mile World Classic, are, for now at least, sticking to their beer-drinking guns.
Still, as one lawyer stressed when talking to Runner’s World, the beer mile poses some unique risks to organizers. “Running and drinking beer both carry with them inherent dangers, so when you combine the two, it comes as no surprise that the likelihood of an untoward result increases significantly,” said William A. Krais, a personal injury lawyer who hasn’t actually been involved in any beer mile lawsuits.
And while there hasn’t been any litigation yet, beer mile sponsors should be careful. If Americans are willing to sue over ice in their coffee, they’re willing to sue over anything.