FloTrack Beer Mile World Championships 2014

Men's Preview: Beer Mile World Championships

Men's Preview: Beer Mile World Championships

Nov 28, 2014 by Lincoln Shryack
Men's Preview: Beer Mile World Championships




2013 World 800m silver medalist Nick Symmonds

Nick Symmonds vs. The Field?
Two-time Olympian and 1:42 man Nick Symmonds is undoubtably the most accomplished runner in the Beer Mile World Championships, but is he the favorite over four laps and four beers? While Symmonds would face no competition against this field in a normal mile, it appears that the beer mile is the great equalizer.

Symmonds PR of 5:19 from 2012 is only the 6th fastest entry time in the race, nearly 18 seconds slower than Corey Gallagher’s top seed time of 5:01.57. That big of a gap may be tough to overcome if Gallagher is on top of his chugging game, especially considering the fact that Symmonds is preparing for the 2015 outdoor season and cannot be weighed down by beer-related training. Symmonds has his sights set on a gold in Beijing, and that may hurt his chances in Austin.

Current world record holder James Nielsen will not compete on December 3rd

Where is James Nielsen?
Last April, Canadian James Nielsen became the first beer-miler to dip under the 5 minute barrier, running 4:57.1 to demolish Jim Finlayson’s previous record of 5:09. The video of Nielsen’s triumphs quickly went viral, but questions loomed as to the legitimacy of Nielsen’s time. The biggest source of speculation is whether or not Nielsen finished his first beer, since he does not prove the can to be empty by holding it upside down over his head. 

Fellow beer miler Corey Gallagher used hand quotations when describing Nielsen’s record, saying "For a guy like that, if you’re running 4:57 six months ago, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be at Worlds. If you’re that much fitter than everyone else, it should be a walk in the park for him. He should be able to possibly go faster. I don’t think he’s legit, I don’t think he really ran it.” Shots. Fired.

Gallagher has a point. If Nielsen wants to claim to be the top beer miler in the world, he should be at the World Championships. 

Foreign Affairs
Everyone goes about their preparation differently, but perhaps no person has trained more intensely than Markus Liwing of Sweden (currently living in Norway). The consultant from Oslo spent 10 days this summer in Germany, where he completed a remarkable six beer miles over that span. Liwing has devoted himself entirely to his training, and claims to have “stopped racing without beer.”

While Liwing won’t be the favorite on December 3rd, he shouldn’t be overlooked by the competition. His training has included many track sessions of 200s and 400s, with beer coming in between each rep. While his 4:05 1500m speed is of no match to Symmonds or Gallagher, Liwing has prepared like a spartan to bring the title of Beer Mile World Champion home with him to Norway. The 25-year-old has enjoyed his training, saying “I like to focus on the beer-specific training and like that I have a good excuse to pop four beers on a Monday.” Cheers, mate. 

The Sleeper
Michael Cunningham of Brewster, NY ran collegiately at Penn, and broke 4 minutes in a road mile last year. Cunningham’s 5:18 beer mile PR came after he split a 54 second last lap, as he went out conservatively to avoid puking. The 24-year-old claims to be able to chug a full beer in a mere three seconds. 

Although Cunningham’s PR is much slower than Corey Gallagher’s, his ability to close in 54 shows promise. Finishing that strong may be tough if the pace goes out hard, but Cunningham’s sub four speed combined with his chugging ability makes him a serious contender.  

Cunningham’s race strategy? “Drink fast, run hard, no gaps, and let it come down to the last 200m.”

Will the world record fall? 
The men will have a tough go to crack James Nielson’s 4:57 mark. Gallagher has run 5:01, but the pressure will be on him since he’s the only person to come within ten seconds of Nielson’s WR. Perhaps knowing that someone of Nick Symmonds caliber will be chasing him will be enough motivation for Gallagher to set a new record, but his focus cannot be deterred by the crowd or the Olympian running beside him. Gallagher has the best shot based on his resume, but the crowd favorite will be Symmonds, the closest version of a modern day Prefontaine.

Go to flotrack.org/beermileworlds.com to see the men's entry list, and to find out more on the inaugural Beer Mile World Championships December 3rd in Austin.