Finally, after weeks of preparation, Australia Day was here and so was my chance to test not only my physical prowess... for today, I would also test my intestinal fortitude, literally.
In theory, it sounds like the perfect event. Drink beer, run a bit, drink more beer...
I'm an "athletic powerhouse" and I've always professed to have a cast iron stomach. Perfect event for me, and a great way to spend Australia Day. No?
When we got to Roy Harvey Park, the overgrown track was being mown in preparation. Let's be real, the Brisbane City Council have had a few other things to attend to lately. It's no surprise that manicuring suburban parks is low down the list of priorities, even for the now annual Queensland running of the Beer Mile.
Particularly because the organisers had decided to donate proceeds to the Premier's Flood Relief Appeal, it seemed fitting that this event was all DIY.
At registration we had to declare the vital stats of our beer of choice. "5% and 345mls, thanks." That research had come in handy.
I was given number 23 as my race number and decided immediately that having the number of Shane Warne couldn't hurt. Speedy Reidy's boyfriend pointed out that Michael Jordan wore 23... Now, of course, I can't deny there's sporting prowess there, but this event involves drinking beer. On that front, I think I'll stick with @warne888.
There was a great turnout of friends to watch us smash ourselves, including Mark, Megan, Megsy and family, Beck, Tracy... And, after several months of online stalking, it was excellent to meet Tyno Mite.
At 4pm the events started, kicking off with some races for the kids, before the Magnum mile and Coke mile was run. An honourable mention has to go to "the egg nog man", who had chosen DIY egg nog for his drop of choice. He started each of his four laps with three fresh eggs cracked into the top of a cup of milk.
I thought four beers was hard - this guy stomached a dozen eggs and a litre of milk, and finished intact in an official time of 7:23. Now that is a cast iron stomach!
Before too long, the starters for the first race of the beer mile were called. There were so many contestants that they had to split us into two starts - first up men under 50. The older men would race with all women, in the second start.
In the first race, JW, the Irish Connection, and Coach Craig took off on this most interesting of challenges. Coach Craig and the Irish Connection fared well, coming in in under 9 minutes. JW, however, who I thought just could be the dark horse of the trio based on beer drinking abilities, didn't fare so well. As I stood there and watched JW struggling with his third and fourth beers, I thought I was doomed.
Geoff, my friend's brother, who had conveniently backed out of running at the last minute, told me he wanted to place a bet on me vomiting in the third lap. (Secretly, I thought he was right on the money - probably why I didn't reopen the book for a last flutter.)
In the face of such little faith in my ability, I thought back on the training I'd done. I tried to block out the last minute training run for the Run Like Crazy marathon, when wine and cheese didn't sit so well. Instead I focused on how great I'd felt after downing two beers in record time at lunch the day before. Yes, it was a work day. Next time you have a meeting you're not looking forward to, I'd strongly recommend chugging a couple of beers before hand. Just make sure you have some backup going to the meeting with you. Otherwise, I guess it could be ugly.
I asked Coach Craig whether he had any tips.
"Run to the left of the track on the first 100m, there's a hole."
Right. I was hoping for something more about how I was going to avoid vomiting. But I guess avoiding a rolled ankle is also good...
As I chose my spot on the table my triathlon training came to the fore. I set up at the edge of the second table so I could easily spot my beers. Speedy Reidy sought me out so we could set up together. I insisted she set up to the left of me, on the edge of the first table, but realised later that I hadn't explained the tactics behind this, that the gap in the table would be easy to spot in the rush of transition.
And then we were off.
It was immediately obvious to me that my "training" had not been enough to convert me into a seasoned beer drinker. (Not that I'm surprised or disappointed by that.) I was last to start my first lap. I could already tell it wasn't going to be pretty.
My third beer was the hardest, and on this lap, my tactic of trying to burp out the extra gas for the first 100m of each lap kind of backfired. Let's just say, a little bit more than gas came up. Eewwww.
I was halfway through my fourth beer when Speedy Reidy came in to finish. I reached out to high five her as she went past, still chugging away. Finally, all the beer was out of the way. Just one last lap...
Speedy Reidy accompanied me for it and by this stage I was already feeling pretty tipsy. As we ran down the first 100m, me on the inside of the track and her to the right, I panicked...
"Don't run on the right, Speedy Reidy! There's a hole in the track!" As if she hadn't just run four laps of the track already. Clever, Athletic Powerhouse, clever...
We got around to the back straight and Coach Craig had dashed across to lend some moral support. When he asked how I was going, I said,
"I haven't stepped in the hole!"
Yep. Things were getting messy.
Finally I crossed the finish line. I thought I was last but my friends assured me there was another girl still to come. The official results show that they were right.
I don't know how to describe the aftermath of the race. About ten minutes after I finished, when I was deep in conversation, I all of a sudden realised just how smashed I was. I'm definitely a happy drunk, so I was having a great time, now that it was finished and especially since I'd realised that the threat of vomiting had long passed - I had felt extremely woeful a few times during the actual event. It was a novelty though, and in the end, we'd done it for a good cause, raising a few hundred dollars for flood relief.
Speedy Reidy probably best summed it up: "Best day ever. Worst day ever."
My friends, including KKB, have declared that the Australia Day Beer Mile is now an annual event for us.
I'm not so sure about that...