Only an Australian would try a “warm-up” beer. One of the favorites for this year’s event was Marc “Another Tinny Please” Lees arriving with his lovely wife, Sherry, and a warm-up beer in hand.
Encinitas Beer Mile* Part 1 - New Year’s Eve San Diego Style
I had been “contacted” to be an official “starter and timekeeper” at the second annual Beer Mile to be held at an undisclosed time and undisclosed location later today.
It had rained hard all Thursday night. As dawn broke the skies were still cloudy and gray and everything was wet. More rain was threatening, but instead of more rain a strong wind started up. So strong it blew the patio furniture off my balcony. Not a Chamber of Commerce day.
It proceeded to sprinkle/rain on and off all day Friday with the wind decreasing slightly after noon. At 400PM I drove to the secret race site location. It was still raining hard enough to keep my wipers on intermittent and still pretty windy. Traffic was very light. Partygoers must have been resting for the midnight revelry unaware of the momentous adventure about to unfold.
I got to the deserted parking lot. My car was the only one in sight. I got out and walked down the muddy trail to the track. It was a typical dirt track and did not look like it was in any kind of condition for the World Class event that would be run within the next hour.
I walked a lap of the track to check its condition. Lane one was completely under water the whole way round. In some parts, the water also covered lane two. Around the far turn the dirt had become so muddy it was slippery just walking. Running around this track would be a challenge!
At 430PM another car drove into the parking lot. Out stepped the venerable Murphy Reinschreiber wearing his ultra heavy duty rain slicker (with the Mild Seven adventure race logo-an event he has been race director for) and a huge golf umbrella. We exchanged hellos and he patted his pocket saying “I have the official Beer Mile rules and list of approved beverages. Any other beverage will not be officially sanctioned and Corona is not on the list.”
Another car drove up with one of San Diego’s more accomplished runners (Brian Culley. He asked if the race was still on. We answered affirmatively and he said he was off to pick up four other “runners”.
We then headed down to the track as some new competitors started showing up (someone bought their kids with them?). It is getting darker by the minute. By 500PM it will be pitch black.
We finally got down to the bleachers and there was a big group gathered by the bleachers. Where did they all come from? Most must live so close by they could run over, so they wouldn’t have to drive back. I hope they didn’t shake their beers too much on the run from home.
The grandmasters of the event are busy arranging garbage cans. Paul Huddle paces off 10 meters and Roch Frey places two garbage cans at each end. The is the drinking zone. More people are showing up each minute. Suddenly there are enough people to qualify as a crowd! It was dark. Hard to tell who was who.
And then it was on!
Paul Huddle gave some brief instructions. Roch Frey showed off the winner’s trophy (the famous Surfing Beer Monkey). Runners got their drinks positioned in the drinking zone. Roch used the heel of his shoe to draw a starting line across the muddy track. I yelled “30 seconds till we start”. I noticed we had quite a varied group. We have one guy in runner’s spikes, one guy in soccer cleats and a 60 year old.
It got quiet. 10 seconds. 5 seconds. GO! It was pretty dark by this time.
The women runners took off immediately. The men had to drink their first beer. WOW! 9 seconds went by and the first male runner was off. Roch Frey was close behind. Then there was a steady stream of runners slowly starting their run as they finished their first beer. Except for poor Jay Prasuhn. He just could not get the beer down. The women were more than half way around the track before he finally started running.
It was drizzling pretty hard. Now it was dusk and hard to see very far. The first runner was coming in (1:22). He lurched over among the spectators along the bleachers and grabbed his second beer. He started the second lap in 1:39. Then things became more chaotic. In came Roch Frey. He grabbed his beer and started walking though the drinking zone. He slammed the empty into the garbage can and started lap two.
Now the first two women came in very close together, a calm and methodical Heather Fuhr and a frenetic Sian Welch. Everyone knew Heather could run, but there were many questions about her ability to quaff three beers. Everyone was sure Sian could handle the beers, but how would she run? These are two competitive women! Heather did surprisingly well and started the second run slightly ahead. And there was Terry Martin not too far behind.
It was getting very crowded now. There was Brian Culley. There was Paul Huddle in his John Deere cap. There was Paula Newby Fraser. There was Don Norcross. There were the Vigils (will Mark be able to beat Linda?) Finally poor Jay Prasuhn. He looks like he is running okay, but the drinking part is not going well.
Not too long after the last woman starts lap two the first man came flying in for the end of his second lap. I do not recognize this phenom, but he was motoring. Next was the guy with the soccer cleats. He wasn’t too, too far behind the first guy. Next was Roch Frey. He looks very determined and was steadily drinking and walking through the zone.
Lap two merges with lap three. Paula Newby Fraser was standing with her hands on her hip trying to finish her beer. The front runner came in at the end of his third lap and was still running well, but his drinking time had slowed. The guy in soccer cleats and Roch both have him in their crosshairs, but he started his last lap with a 10 second cushion. There was a sudden rush to the line to start the final lap and Oh My God, just past the line Brian Culley heaved a ton. People had no mercy and began yelling “Penalty Lap”. Another guy came through the start line with a gusher out his nose. It must have been discreet enough to not be caught by the penalty lap police.
Here we go. Still a cat fight between Heather and Sian. It seems like Heather runs a little faster and Sian drinks a little faster. Everyone assumed Sian’s year long training in this area when have given her an overwhelming advantage over Heather, but to everyone’s surprise Heather is right there. In fact, as they started the last lap Heather had a short lead, but Sian is not giving up. And Terry Martin was not far behind. Huddle was just steady, workmanlike. No flash. Just grit and determination. Oops, Paula is had a very hard time with her last beer. She was standing and gulping for air trying hard to find room for those last few ounces of beer. Hand on hip. It seemed to be taking an eternity. Finally, she found something extra and finished off the last beer and was on her way. Linda Vigil looks like she was having way too much fun. She was enjoying both the running and the drinking. Way to go Linda!
It was now very dark. Cries rang out “Here comes the first runner” I read off the my watch 640, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46. First finisher 6:46. The guy in soccer cleats came in next, only 11-12 seconds behind. Roch came in at 7 minutes flat. Brian Culley continued right past the finish line and started his penalty lap (extra kudos for not even protesting his penalty).
The first woman was next in sight. Who would it be? Still running very strong was Heather Fuhr in 7:27. And people said she couldn’t drink. The win over Sian was by a comfortable margin. Third woman at 8 minutes flat was Terry Martin. Soon we had Paula finishing in 9:15. There was Mark beating his wife Linda. Don Norcross had a workmanlike finish. There was cheering now. “This next guy is 60 years old” yelled Paul Thomas. “He is my hero”
The race was over. The overall male and female winners were presented with their trophies and bonus King Cobra. Many pictures were snapped and stories were told, but the competitive fires were still burning. Suddenly the women were challenging the men to a beer mile relay. This came together in about 30 seconds and I yelled “Go”. I’m not sure what all transpired, but as Roch ran the anchor leg his wife Heather was suddenly catching up very quickly. It looked like someone was running along and either holding Roch or kicking him. In any case the men prevailed. In the background I heard Paul Thomas yell “Anyone ready for a naked mile?”
More Story and Photos to come...and, of course, the final results as best as we could determine while mildly intoxicated.
*Multisports.com does NOT condone irresponsible consumption of alcohol. The views expressed above are in no way a reflection of Multisports.com. Really, they’re not.