Huddle introduces the lead officials, Murphy "No Spillage" Reinschreiber and John "Puke and You're Running an Extra Lap" Duke. There's talk of a federation forming and these two king pins reckon they'll be in charge - what a nightmare.
Is it? Could it be? Scott Tinley showed up with both of his bad hips in a classic Jamul Toads singlet. Ever the gamer, Tinley was throwing down a "warm up" beer before the main event. Cagey, very cagey.
The e-mail inquiries started rolling in around October and we think this is the reason - the coveted Surf Monkey Trophy. Just like any other world class event, the organizers upped the ante with a 40-ounce bottle of Old English 800 for a new race record on the men's AND women's sides. With dry conditions forecasted for the first time in the events history, it was simply a matter of who would go home with the big bonus…
Like any event with explosive growth comes spectators. The crowd on hand included local paddling and triathlon legends. Darrel Swanson, Dan Van Dyke, and Kim MacDonald settle in for the spectacle. Rumors were circulating in the days after the event that the 4th Annual edition would charge admission.
Last year's men's defending champion, Dave "I'm not Santa" Kloz was ready and appeared to be packing heat.
Heather Fuhr with Canadian buddy, Lynne Stewart, had her hair done just for this event. The 15-time Ironman champion and 2-time Encinitas Beer Mile champion was ready to defend her title. Don't let the innocent smile fool you - Heather breathes fire for this event.
Like any growing event, perks are added every year. This year saw the addition of the pace bike (complete with sissy bar and handle bar streamers and a biker's old lady) piloted by Matt Friedman. The "biker's old lady" is Matt's wife, Kim - nice effort team! The pilot was rumored to have a 22-ouncer in the basket. Note the high tech aero, chain proof clothing - tube socks! Sweet!
The starter this year was none other than local hero, El Camino High School graduate, A.J. Acosta. For those of you living in a cave, AJ is only one of the nation's premier high school distance runners (Winner of the 2005 Footlocker High School Cross Country National Chamionship and numerous other titles) who is a freshman on scholarship at the University of Oregon (can you say Pre?). Watch this guy's progress - great personality and yes, he will be world class. He owns a 4:03 mile but, what's really impressive is his rumored 5:38 beer mile performance should tell you all you need to know - but you didn't hear it from us.
It's all fun and games 'til someone says "take your marks". 42 finely tuned athletes prepare to pop their cans of beer on A.J.'s command. As one spectator said, "The atmosphere was electric. I've been to the start of Olympic finals, Ironman World Championships, and the 18th hole at Augusta but this was what sport is all about. The combination of focus and emotion - just knowing these guys have prepared all their lives for this one moment - well, let's just say there wasn't a dry eye in the house." Wow - that pretty much summed it up.
You think we're kidding? You don't think this was all business? Roch Frey's preparation shows as he handily crushes all the pretenders to get out to a gaping lead. Tossing his beer into the can before departing, Roch caught the field flat footed. Josh Cox would overhaul the Canadian recently turned American by 200-meters but Roch would scream through the consume zone to take a commanding lead into the 2nd lap. Go, eh!
3rd Encinitas Beer Mile Gets Legs - Part 1
It's supposed to be an underground event. It's supposed to be "just for fun". It's supposed to be hush-hush and on the low down. Well, with two months to go I knew we were in trouble. I was getting e-mails from certain unnamed individuals asking if there was going to be a third annual Encinitas Beer Mile. For Pete's sake Linda, keep your pants on. Holy smokes! It's freaking October and you're pestering me about a joke "event" in on December 31st?! Let's get through the FORD Hawaii Ironman before we start worrying about the mother of all events.
I thought this was a bit crazy but then I started receiving other e-mails, "Please don't forget to send me the Beer Mile e-mail…" What? "Please"? Are you kidding me? People are begging now? Let me tell you something, the collection of people who are on the Beer Mile e-mail consists of neighbors, family, co-workers, and some very disturbed friends and it still blows me away that at least 50% of this list is type A enough to send me reminders to invite them to an inane gathering on New Year's Eve. I used to feel sorry for myself that I didn't have anything more meaningful to do on New Year Eve than run 4-quarters, drink 4-beers and laugh hysterically - until these people started sending me their e-mails. I'm here to tell you that it's a sad state of affairs.
By the time mid to late December rolls around I'm fielding phone calls from people who NEVER call me. I simply answer with, "Yes, you're on the list and you'll receive the Beer Mile e-mail on New Year's Eve at 9am - just like last year. You're on the list. It's like being a made man in the Mob. Relax - you'll get it." Silence from the other end of the phone and then, "Wow. You're a genius. How'd you know?" I reply, "Uh, I know because there are 50 other losers just like you who have nothing to do on the second biggest holiday of the year - if you're religious. Man!" Sheepishly, from the other end of the line, "Uh, ok, thanks. See you on the 31st." Click.
Then there are the celebrities. I start hearing all kinds of rumors that "maybe Meb Keflezghi will show up. We see Meb at a party - all 78 pounds of him - and ask him if he'd like to grace a bunch of imbeciles with his presence at the Encinitas Beer Mile. He smiles that humble, unassuming smile and says, "I'm sorry, I don't drink beer." Immediately, my good friend and fellow A-hole, Bob Babbitt suggests a relay. My lovely wife jumps in with, "Hey, perfect. Liz Vitai can drink and Meb can run. It's instantly out of control and when we wake up the next morning we actually think aloud, "I wonder if Meb will show up. That would be so great." The silver medalist from the Athens Games doesn't show but it felt very close indeed.
Then I get an e-mail from a friend of a friend that Josh "I'm still a virgin" Cox of the reality show, The Bachelorette, is interested. "I'm serious - he's locked on to www.beermile.com right now and checking out the records and rules." What? You mean The Josh Cox? Pretty Josh Cox? Brad Pitt look-a-like Josh Cox? Mr. Powerbar Josh Cox? Ran a 2:13 marathon and a 1:03 half Marathon Josh Cox? Runs more miles in a year than you and I drive Josh Cox? I love that guy. He's good looking. Heck, I'd date him. That would bring the "looks" average of our crowd up to a 4.5 out of 10. He can run fast and speaks English. Nah, he's too pretty to be able to drink beer like a pirate though…and if it's muddy? Forget it. Hell, it's a dirt track. No runner of his caliber is going to prance like a deer around a dirt track - especially with us.
I see that he's copied on the e-mail, I reply and think, "yeah right, Josh Cox. I suppose A.J. Acosta is home from Oregon for Christmas vacation and is going to show up too…hah…not!" And then there's an e-mail from Josh Cox. He's interested. He wants details. Then, just like I thought, he's too pretty. He claims that he's made some Man Pact with fellow world class runner, Dan Brown, about not drinking beer and starting something called "training". He says that if I can convince Dan Brown to lift the beer ban for this one evening, he'll do it. I immediately send the e-mail to Dan:
Dan, if you're out there, I hope you can understand the gravity of this event and that you can appreciate not just the certain fame and fortune that will come with a fast time and podium finish, but the simple sense of achievement that one feels from having given it his/her all under the pressure and duress that all beer milers personally face.
This isn't some run of the mill Olympic or World Championship final. This isn't a pansy ass Ironman event. This isn't some simple 5k, 10k, or marathon against a bunch of, 3-run a day, porridge eating, 2-hour napping, 105lb whippets who equate partying with cake and ice cream. This isn't simply a case of running as fast as you can - hell anyone can do that. No, this is the pinnacle of every athlete's life. This is what all of the years of hard work are for. This is the culmination of decades of blood, sweat, and tears...and hangovers. This is an event that combines an athlete's lifetime of both running and drinking and does not tolerate pretenders. Consider it the challenge of a lifetime. Success at the Beer Mile carries over into all other aspects of life. It's no wonder that past champions include heads of state and captains of industry.
In closing, we're not asking that you lift Josh Cox's drinking ban.
We demand it.
Who the hell doesn't drink anyway?
What kind of silliness is that?
Lift the ban.
12-hours go by. 24-hours go by. 36-hours go by and then, in a flash, the ban is lifted. Dan responds positively and Josh Cox will run his first Beer Mile and it will be in Encinitas on a dirt track with a motley assortment of endurance sport idiots at varying stages of physical decay.
This was exciting news but no more exciting that realizing that our defending champions were coming back. Dave "Don't Call Me Santa" Kloz would be back to defend his title from 2005 along with the sweet little Heather Fuhr. Yes, the sweet little Heather Fuhr who we learned could drink like a sailor on leave. Heather wasn't taking the easy way out either - the two-time winner was talking and "official" attempt. That means 4-beers and 4-laps just like the big boys. Kloz was another year stronger and another year wiser. Surely he had some tricks up his sleeve after dominating an exciting race in the mud and rain of the '05 event.
The dark horse pick on the women's side had to be first timer, Katja Schumacher. Anyone who has ever witnessed the 2006 Ironman Wisconsin Champion in party mode would be intimidated. Premier prognosticator, Paula Newby-Fraser knew that Katja could not only run but this German could drink. Not just drink but drink like, well, like a German. On the men's side you only have to look back one year to remember the Guzzler of the Great White North, the Human Drain, the Kokanee Crusher - Roch Frey. The legend was back. 12-ounces in 6-seconds is within his abilities and he was rumored to have gone to Germany for Oktoberfest - just to get a little extra preparation that might vault him to the top.
To be continued…