FloTrack Beer Mile World Championships 2014

Seanna Robinson, a Beer Mile Pioneer

Seanna Robinson, a Beer Mile Pioneer

Dec 3, 2014 by Taylor Dutch
Seanna Robinson, a Beer Mile Pioneer

The women’s beer mile world record was broken by Chris Kimbrough (6:28) a few weeks ago, but for the past 17 years, Seanna Robinson reigned. While attending Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, Robinson became one of the first female runners to not only set the world record (6:42), but also break the long-standing “Kingston Rule” where women chug three instead of four beers.

The Official Kingston Rules were established in 1993 by beer mile pioneers Al Pribaz and his friends as the standard for which beer mile records should be counted. Today, the Official Kingston Rules are followed by beer mile results and rankings website BeerMile.com. The original rules included standards such as, where beer should be consumed, alcohol content, a penalty lap for puking and three beers for women instead of four.

It was never a consideration for Robinson to drink three instead of four. “Right off the bat, I was like, no! I want to do four beers!” said Robinson. “It just seemed like more fun!”

Robinson remembers the day she ran the record very well. The beer mile was one of the events at a local 5k in Hamilton, ON in 1997. During the awards ceremony and after one too many beers, Robinson grabbed the microphone and made a statement expressing her true feelings towards the three beer rule.

“It was my big women’s rights moment [laughs],” said Robinson jokingly while remembering what she yelled on the awards stand, microphone in hand. “There’s no women’s beer mile and men’s beer mile! There can be the three beer mile and the four beer mile, but the women can compete head-to-head with the men in whichever distance they choose!”

While attending Queens University, Robinson was part of the underground roots of the beer mile event, which traces back to a group of friends in Ontario running the race after coming up with the idea on a summer night in the late 1980s. Graham Hood, Kelly Harris, Ian Fallas and Rob Auld decided to continue the tradition on their college campuses, which included Queens University. By 1992, the Kingston Classic was born and in its fourth-consecutive year. Robinson didn’t arrive at Queens until 1994, but was eager to embrace the rich traditions.

Robinson remembers other races that the Queens track team hosted along with the beer mile such as the Timbit challenge (a doughnut eating contest after a full meal at Tim Hortons coffee shop), the naked run, and the slow-twitch Olympics (a decathlon competition for long distance runners).

“It’s funny, I can drink anything really fast, but I’m the slowest eater,” said Robinson explaining why she sat out on the Timbit challenge.

Her world record stood for 17 years, and since that time Robinson has been running competitively in the marathon, half marathon, 10k, 5k and Ironman. She was a coach at the University of Toronto for their Jr. Development track and cross country teams, and is now the founder of RunningWell, an organization focused on providing wellness, engagement and performance to the workplace.

It took 17 years for her record to go down, and when asked why she thought it took so long, Robinson responded that it may have to do with an idea of bragging rights.

“I’ll be honest, I’ve had the record for a long time, but half of me was embarrassed and it’s funny because guys never are, they’re proud,” said Robinson, “And I’m like yeah, I can chug beer really fast, I mean it’s not really that ladylike [laughs].”

“I’m guessing it’s because it just doesn’t fit women’s images as much as it does men, like it’s not the same bragging rights,” said Robinson. “It’s still the same athletic accomplishments, I’m not undermining it, I’m just saying there’s probably more of an allure for men than women.”

Kimbrough may have broken her record, but Robinson has no intention of sitting out on an opportunity to reclaim it.

“I always said, ‘I’m in semi-retirement until someone challenges me, and as soon as I saw that she [Kimbrough] had done it, I was A) inspired and B) I felt competitive! This will be fun!”