Lewis Kent once ran a mile in 4:47, a time most runners can only dream of. What makes the Canadian’s time particularly impressive, however, is that he clocked it while chugging four 355ml bottles of beer.
Kent, you see, is the beer mile world record holder. This noble activity – once confined to the college campuses of North America but now a global phenomenon – sees competitors run four laps of an athletics track, with each lap punctuated by the downing of a premium lager.
With the Beer Mile World Classic coming to London on 31 July, it seemed only right that we catch up with the sport’s greatest athlete.
Two beer-milers race each other. One is a great runner; the other a great drinker. Who wins?
The great drinker, every time. If you have a 17-minute 5K runner who doesn’t really drink and a 20-minute 5K guy who does, put your money on the 20-minute guy. Obviously, you need to be able to run a little bit, but it’s the drinking aspect that most people struggle with.
Sounds encouraging. So what’s your best non-beer mile?
I’ve run 4:15, so I’m not an elite-level runner. Nick Symmonds [an Olympic athlete whose mile best is 3:59] took part in the Beer Mile World Championships back in 2014, which was really cool. I managed to finish two places in front of him, though, so it proves it’s not all about running.
How does one train for a beer mile?
I train mostly with water and non-alcoholic beer. In addition, I run about 60-65 miles per week, with a bit of cross-training thrown in. There’s no particular magical technique. My first beer mile was 6:11, so it goes to show that practice makes perfect.
What’s your drink of choice during the race?
I go for Amsterdam Blonde, which is brewed in Toronto, close to where I’m from. It tastes great and has worked well for me, so I’ve stuck with it.
If you could challenge any professional runner to a beer mile, who would it be?
I’ll go with a British runner: Chris O’Hare. He’s a good mile runner so it would be cool to race against him. I would say Mo Farah, but I think I’m more likely to get Chris to race me!
We understand you’ve also tried your hand at the longer distance stuff…
I used to be the world record holder for the two-mile event [which involves drinking eight beers over a two-mile distance]. The new world record was set recently by Jim Finlayson in an unbelievable time of 11:39. He did it without throwing up, too, which is impressive as most people have to do at least one penalty lap for that reason.
Who do you see as being your biggest threat at the upcoming Beer Mile World Classic?
It’s hard to say. There are so many wild cards – guys who have never recorded an official time before but are naturally great at it – so you never know who’ll bring it on the day.
Lewis Kent is a Brooks-sponsored athlete. Follow him on Twitter @LewisKentMiler