Friday, December 31, 2010

Freakin' (Vertical) Beer Mile, Dude!

Yesterday was the 20th Towers session of the year, so to cap of a great season on the hill, we set out to conquer the infamous beer mile. Traditionally done on a track, we figured it would be much more exciting and generally more hardcore if we did it on the Fort Collins Trail Runners' track: The Big Hill.

Pete's nutrition plan hangs from his neck.

The route went from the Nomad intersection to the Loggers intersection, which according to various GPS devices is exactly, or just a touch over a mile with 700 feet of vertical climb. To add to the general epicness of the event, we received our first real snow dump of the year in the 24 hours prior, and it was still coming down as the silliness got underway, oh and the thermometers were reading a chilly 10 degrees.

The Beer Mile Start

There were three race divisions among the 10 assembled runners: men, women, relay. Competing in the boys' race were myself, Pete (who had been playing up his drinking prowess for weeks), Alex, Slusher, and Bryan; in the girls' race Celeste, being the only entrant appeared to be the odds on favorite; while in the relay, the remaining girls (Marie Helene, Mary, Ean and Jennifer) would run the course together taking turns on the beer-consumption aspect of the race.

Beers were placed at quarter mile intervals up the hill, and a finish line was marked off in the snow at the Loggers signpost. At the top, Pete described the quarter mile penalty lap (a further quarter mile of running up the hill) that would be mandatory for anyone who blew chunks.

From the gun, Pete managed to live up to his pre-race talk by getting his first beer down a good ten seconds before Alex and I. By the quarter mile mark, I had pulled within five seconds of Pete, who appeared to be in a spot of early trouble. Despite some thunderous belches, I was finding that the beers were going down well, and that the running-with-a-gut-full-of-beer part was actually not too bad. I out-drank Pete by a landslide on beer number two, and headed out for the halfway point with a clear lead.

Official photographer, Mindy, was manning the third aid station (with perhaps the brightest headlight known to man), and she had an appetizing line-up of beers on offer. I was probably halfway done with my penultimate beer by the time the second bead of light appeared on the scene. To mine and Mindy's surprise, it was Alex, not Pete, followed soon after by Slusher. There was chatter of rainbow arcs and snow tigers at the second aid: Pete was clearly in trouble.

With the third beer down and a big lead, it was just a question of keeping the frothy mess down during the big half-mile climb to the finish. Ean was at the final beer station, camera in hand, and let me tell you that last beer was a true pleasure. As I was finishing up my 48th ounze of frothy Coors nastiness, Alex pulled in with what looked like a commanding lock on second.

Look at that form!

Alex nears the finish line

Belching all the way, I crossed the Loggers finish line with my lunch intact in a standard-setting 18:25. Alex crossed in 19:50, breaking the 20 minute mark comfortably. Third overall, in perhaps the most impressive performance of the night, was Celeste who had posted a strong back half to overtake her husband Slusher between beer three and four.

Performance of the night. Celeste outruns, outdrinks and outplays her husband.

Bryan in fourth

Slush in fifth

Indeed Slusher ended up being edged out by Bryan for fourth in an exciting slow-motion sprint for the finish. The relay team posted an impressive sixth-place finish and then we all hung around at the top waiting for Pete to finish off his penalty quarter and claim his wooden spoon.

Just the one beer for Jennifer!

If you're going to make one Towers appearance the whole year, I guess you should make it this one. Marie runs a strong leg for the relay team.

Alex and Ean

The descent on the cushy carpet of snow, in a semi-inebriated state was quite the ride, and more than a few spills were taken by most.

Back at Soderberg safe and sound.


  1. Epic!
    Besides Coors, thoughts on beer selection? What was Pete's downfall?

  2. Awesome. Next time you go with Gubna and turn your slightly inebriated state to full on.

  3. Nick, I thought maybe Western States, but now this is by far your performance of the year.

  4. Where were you Mike? You could have given Nick a real challenge. As far as beer choice, Fat Tire served me well. According to Pete, his downfall was the foam.

  5. Mike - beer choice was made on proximity to lowest allowable alcohol content (5%), cost, and desire not to waste good beer. Coors fit the bill perfectly. That said, a flatter beer might have worked a little better.

    Patrick - see points above about alcohol content, cost and desire not to waste good beer. But point well taken.

    Rob - It's up there for sure. Behind Wasatch, I think, but in front of WS.

  6. I'd like to blame the beverage choice for my poor performance. Or I may have been careless shaking up my cans on the way up the hill. But honestly I think I may have been under trained for this one. I felt good off the start getting the first beer down in 35 seconds but I just didn't have enough base training to hold this pace to the finish.

  7. I have a lot of work to do! I am so proud of Celeste and she is super pumped to have beaten me, and pete, and bryan. Her time sets a possibly unattainable standard for all the ladies out there, and quite frankly most of us "men" as well. A tip of the frosty mug to nick, les, and everyone else who was brave/crazy enough to show up last night. Nick, alex has an incredible trophy for you that you can proudly display next to your others, in whose company it will mightily stand!

  8. Pete - beverage choice, like tire choice in a car race, is a key component of the overall strategy and certainly not a legitimate excuse for failure. Like Slush, you have much to work on in 2011.

    Slush - can't wait to raise my trophy. I also have prizes to hand out for the 2010 Towers season. Maybe we can distribute the goodies next Thurs, or in two weeks at the next Towers run. I already have a prominent spot picked out for my hardware.

  9. Looking at my splits I found I spend 5 seconds shy of 10 minutes drinking beer. It's obvious to me where my training should be focused. Skipping the Trailhead after the run on Tuesdays has clearly not served me well.

    On a side note, I do believe I took home the Masters division on Thursday. My wife tells me there's more than one way to interpret that.


  10. Well done Nick!

    I totally dig the uphill mile!

    We had a Boulder Beer Mile on the same day, but on a boring track.

    Next year I'll do my best to make your event and challenge you to show up for the Boulder race. I posted a race report on my blog. The winner ran 6:37 with 4 guys under 7 minutes and of course the event is a sanctioned race!