Astounding Man Runs Beer Mile in Less than 5 Minutes

By Noah Kaufman |

Let’s start with a brief explanation for those unacquainted with the magnificence that is the beer mile. It is what it sounds like—a combination of drinking beer and the thing you hated most in gym class. Competitors are required to drink a beer before each lap of a four-lap mile run on a 400-meter track. There are a bevy of other regulations (known as the Kingston Rules, which sounds delightfully official) in order for a record to be officially ratified, and you can read them here. If you aren’t in the mood to click through, among the big ones to remember as you think about how hard it would actually be to do this are: You cannot shotgun your beer; whatever you drink must be at least 5 percent ABV; and if you throw up you do have to run a penalty lap.

James Nielsen, a former two-time Division 3 NCAA track champion, completed what appears to be the first sub-5-minute beer mile in history, clocking a 4:57. His last lap, after drinking four beers, was a very impressive 63 seconds. We should note that there is another sub-5 on the books, but too much beer was spilled for it to count.*

Just for a bit of perspective, Nick Symmonds, who won a silver medal at the World Track and Field Championships and finished fifth in the Olympics holds a beer mile personal best of just 5:31.

Nielsen’s wife, who is the only other person in the video with him, must be very proud today. Congratulations, James. Have a beer to celebrate.

* Nielsen’s record is also apparently unofficial but there is no indication as to why that would be, and watching the video, we can’t figure it out. He seems to have followed the rules to us. It must be the messy beer mile bureaucracy. 

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