Obelisk Beer Mile

Running and Drinking- What’s not to love?

Beer mile racing seems to have become quite popular in the last few months with several events billing themselves as ‘World Championships’ from America to the UK. The Obelisk Beer Mile wasn’t claiming any such titles. This event was all about having fun, bringing together some local running communities and combining two things people enjoy doing but doing them in an entirely different way to normal.

The rules were simple. Drink one beer (or larger) before every quarter mile lap equalling a total of 4 beers and one mile of running. Sounds easy right? Well I can tell you it most certainly isn’t!

Arriving at the Obelisk Centre in Northampton on Friday evening I was thoroughly looking forwards to what would be my first experience at such an event. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done plenty of running and plenty of drinking in my time, just not at the same time.


This was a low key race open to anyone but as it was organised by members of the Northampton Road Runners and Parklands Jog and Run that’s where most of the participants came from. There was a lovely, friendly atmosphere and anticipation grew as the jugs of alcohol were brought from the bar to the tables set up at the start area. There was a choice of Worthington’s bitter or Carling larger which was then poured into plastic half pint glasses ready from consumption.

As we were asked to gather at the start line just before 7pm everyone seemed excited yet apprehensive not knowing how they would fair mixing two favourite past times.

It was explained that the full glass of drink had to be downed and put upside down over the participants head to show it was empty all within a 10 meter zone before running could commence. If this wasn’t adhered to an extra lap forfeit was in place, the same punishment that came for being sick (nice!)

It was then time to begin. But unlike most races there was no running talking place as the starter shouted to word ‘go’. First a beer needed to be drank. I went with Carling and managed to get it down fairly quickly. Not a fast as some though who had already gained a good 20 meters on me.

I used my running speed to good affect and managed to take the lead by the half way point of the first lap. Burping every few steps I made it back to the ‘fuel station’ first. After only a few gulps of my second drink others arrived but I got away still in the lead.


I realised that drinking while out of breath I significantly harder than normal so my tactic on this lap was to push hard then easy off at the final turn with around 100 meters to go. It was a strategy that extended my lead but didn’t make the drinking any easier. In fact this third lager was going down considerably slower. I still set off on the penultimate lap with a lead but it had been cut somewhat.

My legs were going well but my stomach was now acting like a washing machine in full flow. As I arrived to tackle the final beverage I knew I wasn’t going to be a pleasant one. I was half way through when I was joined by the next runner. His company was only brief however as he drown his beer in one and flew off in the lead. I forced the last few sips down and gave chase.

At around the same place I’d taken the lead on the first lap I’d cut the deficit to a meter. This time though my tummy was wondering why on earth I was running rather than laying down and not throwing up was now a genuine concern.

Neither of us fancied a sprint finish and we were almost certain it would result in an unpleasant mess so we agreed to run through the line together. As we did so the larger than expected crowd cheered us in and we stopped the clock at a surprisingly faster than expected 7 minutes 35 seconds. We were rewarded with an awesome (joint) winners medal and a really original race memento in the form of a pint glass with the event’s logo on. Every runner and volunteer got one of these.


We applauded in all the other finishers who like us ran through the line with a mixture of happiness of finishing such a fun race and uneasiness of holding down the drink.

The woman’s race went right down to the wire with two ladies, Liz and our Judgement Day- The Unknown reviewer Natasha (https://quirkyraces.com/2016/09/16/judgement-day-the-unknown-2016/) who has been teetotal for the last 15 years. They were both at the final drinks stop together with Nat heading out first. Liz, the faster runner of the two, was really struggling to get her final beer down and by the time she had Nat had build up what looked like an uncatchable lead. This didn’t turn out to be the case though as Liz just edged ahead on the final straight winning by the shortest of margins.

Everyone seemed to have a really enjoyable time and the best news of the night was still to come at the presentation when it was announced that there would be a Christmas version of the Beer Mile taking place on the afternoon of Sunday 4th December at the same venue. Quirky Races might just have a bit more to do with that event so keep an eye out on our website and Facebook page (https://m.facebook.com/Quirkyraces/) for that one.

Here’s a video of the action unfolding.

Author: Chris Lamb Racing Diary

I am an endurance based athlete participating in events from 800m on the track to ultra trail marathons & obstacle course races. I like to test my strengths over the widest range of events possible at the highest level I can. You can follow me on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/chrislambpjr

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