For those unfamiliar with the rules of a beer mile, they are as follows: Contestants must drink a beer before each lap of a four-lap mile race. Then they generally spend the next several hours vowing to never do that again. While most weekend warriors would be content to just finish the run, there is a subset of superhumans (including actual Olympians) who are racing for time. When the inaugural Beer Mile World Championships takes place this evening in Austin, here are a few of the top athletes who will be toeing the line.
1. Nick Symmonds: Two-time Olympian and World Championship Silver Medalist Nick Symmonds goes into the race as the heavy favorite. In addition to having the most impressive track resume, the 800m specialist boasts some distinctions off the track as well. Symmonds is an outspoken advocate for gay rights, was (briefly) romantically linked to Paris Hilton, recently published a biography, and also launched a company that sells caffeinated chewing gum for athletes.
2. Cory Gallagher: This friendly Canadian speedster once ran down two would-be bicycle thieves. He’ll have to outrun much tougher competition in Symmonds if he wants to claim the victory. Gallagher is a veteran of the beer mile with several of the fastest times ever posted, including a personal best of 5:01.
3. Chris Kimbrough: Earlier this month, 44-year-old Chris Kimbrough attempted her first beer mile and smashed the previous women’s record by running 6:28. This wasn’t a fluke, either, as the mother of six certainly has the running pedigree: she ran in the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials. An Austin resident, she’ll be the hometown favorite.
4. Katie Mackey: Professional middle-distance runner Katie Mackey runs for Seattle’s Brooks Beasts elite running team. While no other woman in the field has her wheels (she’s got a 4:27 mile best to her name), this will be her first attempt at a mile that involves 48 ounces of liquid sloshing around in her stomach. If she can handle the drinking, the crown should be hers for the taking.
5. Seanna Robinson: Robinson is the owner of a corporate wellness company, which is ironic considering she held the women’s beer mile record for nearly 20 years. She’s been coaxed out of retirement to try and reclaim her record from Kimbrough.
Two notable absentees on the men’s side include current World Record Holder James Nielsen, who is the only person to run the beer mile in less than 5 minutes, and disgraced doper Lance Armstrong, who threw in the towel (or the can), quitting after just one lap in an attempt to qualify for today’s championships. However, there’s still plenty of star power up front, and with an event this filled with variables, everyone has a shot. If you want to watch the insanity live, it’s available on Flotrack.org.