US international middle-distance runner Katie Mackey shares her beer mile diary exclusively with SPIKES ahead of the inaugural Flotrack Beer Mile World Championships in Austin, Texas on December 3.

“So what is it that attracted me, a serious runner – with aspirations to make the US team at next year’s World Championships in Beijing and at the 2016 Rio Olympics – to take time out from my preparations to run a mile with four beers inside me?

“Madness? Insanity? Maybe. But like any elite runner, I love competition and when I first heard that one of my Brooks Beasts team-mates Nick Symmonds was going for a world record in the men’s beer mile I thought it would be a fun way to embrace a more social aspect of running. 

“I also thought it presented a chance to profile our sport in a cool way. Not everyone can make sense of the fact, for example, that I have run 4:04 for the 1500m but most people know what kind of time they can run for a mile – adding beer into the mix – just adds an extra crazy element to the race.

“Now I have a confession to make. I have one previous beer mile experience. It came at a bachelor and bachelorette party a couple of years back. How did I go? Well with very little planning I ran 7:36 for the mile, but the main lesson I took out of the experience was it was really uncomfortable. By racing a beer mile you are fighting many new elements such as carbonation, a full stomach and… er… lots of burping.

A photo posted by Katie Mackey (@mackeykb) on

Hardcore conditioning: racing crocodiles

“So the next question is how to prepare for a beer mile? Well, those of you wondering if I’m stocking my fridge full of beer and regularly heading to the track might be disappointed to learn this is not part of my pre-race preparation.

“No, I’m just focusing on my normal training. There is no use me honing my beer drinking skills only to discover I’m too large to move effectively around the track. Now don’t get me wrong, I like a beer in the off-season. During the fall I can relax a bit more and it is really nice to crack open a beer after a long, hard run. It is just winning a place on the US team for Beijing remains the priority.  

“Nonetheless, I have done quite a lot research online and watched videos of beer mile races as prep. I’ve looked at what the ideal temperature should be to drink a beer quickly. I’ve studied what angle is best for drinking a beer out of can [beer mile rules state the beer must be consumed from a can].

“So, as I’m not drinking beer in preparation, I’ve taken to drinking carbonated water out of can most days after workouts. What I’ve found is the best way to drink it quickly is to hold it at a 45 degree angle.

Katie Mackey World Relays ()

Sharing beers and splitting distance strictly forbidden!

“What I’ve also discovered is a warm beer holds less carbonation while an ice cold beer can cause the oesophagus to tighten. Knowing this information my tactics might be to take the beer out about an hour or so before I compete, so it is at room temperature by the time I take to the start line.

“For me, making sure the temperature is right is of greater importance than the brand of beer I’ll be drinking. I know the beer needs to be of a certain alcohol percentage to meet beer mile guidelines, but I’m happy to go along with whatever the organisers provide. 

“As an elite athlete I’m sure many observers will be very keen to see how I get on in Austin, but my PB is more than a minute slower than the women’s world record of 6:28 set recently by Chris Kimbrough.

“I watched the video, and my first thought was ‘no-way, that is incredible.’ Then I watched it again and realised this was a 44-year-old mother of six and I was in awe. My next emotion is one of excitement that I will hopefully be competing against her in Austin on December.

“So how will it go? It is hard to say. I have one previous beer mile experience, but I am a little edgy and wonder if I will be like a fish out of water for what is going to be an out of the ordinary situation for me.

“What I can say is in my one previous beer mile I ran quite conservatively because I wasn’t sure if I could keep the beer in my stomach. My beer mile debut also had much less of a competitive element compared to what I will be facing in Austin, so I hope to run faster. We’ll see on December 3.”

Photography: Brooks Running