4 beers, 1 mile

Drink a 12-ounce beer, run a quarter mile. Not too bad.

Drink a 12-ounce beer, run another quarter mile. That didn’t feel so good. Burps help in the first 50 yards.

Drink yet another 12-ounce beer, run a quarter mile. Feeling horrible. Maybe this wasn’t a great idea.

Drink a final 12-ounce beer, run a quarter mile, and you’re done. Stomach about to burst, but now, you can celebrate.

Well, kind of.

It depends on whether you’re an experienced beer drinker/runner.

Thirty-one runners finished Kauai’s first beer mile at the Wailua Homesteads Park soccer fields on a sunny, warm Sunday afternoon. One of them was Martine Twist. The beer mile, she said, wasn’t nearly as fun as it sounded.

“I was feeling OK until the end, and then you start to feel the beer on the last lap,” she said shortly after finishing. “Now, it just feels awful, honestly. Headache, stomachache, you can’t breathe.”

So, in that case, why did you do this?

“Peer pressure,” Twist added, now smiling. “I thought it would be really fun. It’s not though. It’s not fun at all.

“It was literally harder than running a 10k. I guess if I would have trained for it it would have been easier,” she said, then asking “Do you chug beers often? I drink them slowly. That doesn’t transfer over. That’s not cross training.”

But it didn’t stop a highly spirited group, many members of Divas and Dudes on Kauai, from trying what’s become a nationwide craze to drink and run as fast as you can — or maybe steady is a better word — for one mile.

Organizer Jim Benkert put out the word of the island’s first beer mile. He measured the course and explained the rules to a field of guys and gals in shorts, tank tops, some barefoot, none who seemed at all worried about downing four beers — well, some went with wine cooler, champagne and hard lemonade — without collapsing on all fours.

He said he and others already run together and have beers now and then. He had heard, too, about the beer mile. It’s been the subject of articles in national publications including Runner’s World. It didn’t take long to decide, hey, let’s do this. In moderation, of course.

“A lot of us just thought it would be a fun thing to do,” he said.

Since many are also running the Honolulu Marathon this weekend, last week was a taper week and Sunday, a day off from running. The beer mile, Benkert said, was “a good opportunity to do something not serious and just have a good time. None of us are real experienced about drinking four beers in a few minutes.”

Not everyone was there just to have a good time, which plenty did. Some were serious and were ready to drink quickly and run fast, even warming up with sprints and stretches, as cans and bottles of Coors, Budweiser, Pabst and Guinness, in groups of four, stood on the tables.

First, the rules. Pretty simple. Drink a 12-ounce beer, turn the can upside down over your head to prove you drained it, toss it in the recycling pile, and run a quarter mile. Repeat four times. Beer had to be finished in the designated area. Runners brought their own beer, bottles or cans. No light beer, had to be at least 5 percent alcohol. Throwing up was punishable with a penalty lap.

A potluck was planned once all finished, and there were non-beer milers there, too, to be sure all were OK. There was even an off-duty police officer.

Patrick Schanze believed he was ready for a good performance.

“Being from Germany, I should hopefully be able to drink some beer,” he said. “I’m not quite sure about running with it. That’s going to be the interesting part. I know it’s going to be tough running once you drink.”

Turns out, he was wrong. The running was the easy part.

Several runners chugged their opening beers and charged off. One of them was Adam Kinghorn. After lap one, he popped open a Nevada bottled beer.

“It’s tough,” he said.

Another lap, another beer.

“I am really full,” he said, as he emptied the bottle.

Third lap done, he’s drinking his fourth beer.

“Worse,” he said when asked how he was feeling.

But 8 minutes and 4 seconds after he started, he sprinted across the finish line and was handed his medal — a crushed beer can on a ribbon. Big smile and hand slaps all around.

“My organs hurt,” he said, letting out a burp.

Was it worth it?

“Sure. I wanted to win,” he said.

The fastest time of the day, though, went to Chris Marsh, in 6 minutes, 52 seconds. Second went to Cameron Cox in 7:01.

For others, the body wasn’t willing, but the mind wanted to give it a go.

Schanze came in, with a beer and a lap left, with a sickly look.

“I want to burp and I can’t,” he said.

Later, when he was done, he said chugging the beer was the hardest part, not the running.

“I thought I was the faster runner, coming from Germany,” he said.

Ben Hoppe said it went well — for three beers and three laps.

“I felt like I lost a little control around lap four, got a little loose,” he said. “Beer three, that’s when it changed everything.”

Jill Miley came in after two laps, smiling and determined.

“OK, this one is going to be a lot worse,” she said as she popped a bottle of Stella Artois open.

It was worse, but she hung on to finish in 10:32, the fastest woman. She did nothing to prepare for the race, she said, other than drink an occasional beer and exercise.

“I’m happy,” she said, smiling.

Dorrie Michioka walked around, slowly sipping the beer in her hand, in the staging area as friends shouted encouraging words.

“The beer’s sitting in my stomach right now,” she said. “I’m not a drinker.”

Lauren Hunt sat down at one point, drinking a glass of champagne, and even shared a toast with friend Robin Pratt.

“You might have to catch me after this,” she said.

Ross Martineau finished his four beers and a mile in 10:53, a solid performance considering he’s not a beer drinker “at all” and just came to have fun with friends.

“The key is the burp,” he said. “I felt better than I thought I would.”

Cameron Cox, who used to live on Kauai, was back on island visiting and playing with his band Applesauce when he heard about the beer mile.

He and his buddies, including brothers Chris Marsh and Rory Marsh and Colin Ryan, are competitive, so they came to drink fast and run hard. Mission accomplished.

“The last lap was the easiest,” he said. “By the time you come down to that, you can give it all you got.”

Benkert was pleased with the outing. It went as he hoped: Uniting people to run, share a few beers, and many laughs, along the way.

“Thanks for everyone who came, had fun and made it a super event,” he wrote that night. “Spreading aloha that lasts forever!”


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