French Bloke Runs

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Tag: Beer

Beer Mile World Classic

I’ve been talking about it for a long time, but now I’ve finally ran a Beer Mile! And no less than the Beer Mile World Classic with the world elite of the discipline! The rules are simple: drink 1 beer then run 1 lap and repeat 4 times! If you throw up or don’t finish one of your beers, you’ll have to run a penalty lap. There are petty regulations (only 355ml canned or bottled beer with at least 5% alcohol) but that’s pretty much it. Quite simple uh?

Lanky Pole had planned to come with me but in the end he couldn’t make it because this plonker injured his foot. Worst of all, he didn’t even come to support me and chug a few beers during this day-long event. Never mind, I came with my Serpentine Kit – which I am required to wear when I race – and the Serpie running vest helped me making friends (and foes) as you’ll see. I arrived quite early at the event and I did well because I was running in the second race. It gave me enough time to change, watch and learn from the first race and warm up for my own race. When I was given my bib, the clerk recommended to burp as much as possible to avoid puking. This was really good advice: whilst you can always bring your own beer, the default beer was Heineken, which is very gassy and will definitely provoke barfing when running if the gas isn’t eliminated quickly. And I didn’t want to get a penalty lap.

On the starting line, all the runners have their finger on the capsule of their beer, ready to open it. The speaker (very funny guy by the way) counts down and Psssst, everyone opens their beer and starts chugging. For crying out loud, this is much harder than I though! Not only it’s a tasteless beer, but it is so gassy that I’m mostly swallowing foam, which makes it really hard to down it quickly. I belch several time and I finally manage to finish it but at least seven or eight guys managed to finish theirs before me. What a piss poor start, I’m very disappointed in my performance so far but there’s no time to dwell on that so I start running. The first quarter of lap is continuous loud belching and I’m not the only one. Very early in the race, I spot who’s going to be my pacemaker: it’s a redhead dude with a striped vest (white, orange and green).

At the end of the first lap, as he’s cheered upon, I understand that he’s a Mornington Chaser. But oh, I’m being cheered upon too! A bunch of people shout “Go Serpie!” and this gives me an extra boost: I raise my fist in the air and I chug faster. I’m getting the hang of it. But it’s still very hard to chug on this crappy beer and the Mornington Chaser is still well ahead of me. More burping and belching while running, but I don’t feel like vomiting, that’s a good sign. At the end of the second lap, I hear more heartwarming cheering and I start chugging on my third Heineken. This bloody chaser is still ahead of me but I managed to gain some precious seconds in the chug zone, so now he’s within reach: 4 minutes and 10 seconds after the start of the race, I accelerate and I finally overtake him! But not for long and he overtakes me again just before the chug zone. With the fatigue, it’s getting harder and harder to swallow anything, but I manage to down my last can just a second before the chaser. I run a fairly good last lap (1:20) and I finish on a beautiful sprint that the speaker describes as ‘unnecessary’ but it allows me to finish 10 seconds before my opponent in the very unimpressive time of 7 minutes 35 seconds. Anyway that’s my new PB and I’m proud of it!
[Watch the video of the race on Trackie]

Serpentine v Mornington Chasers

Serpentine v Mornington Chasers

We shake our hands and exchange a bit of banter around club competition. Other Serpies come and congratulate me on my time and on my final sprint. It turns out there are plenty of us here but most are volunteers and marshall the race. I make plenty of new friends, we exchange running tips and devise new strategies to improve our Beer Mile time. The best suggestion is to compete with a better and flatter beer. Someone reckons Guinness is good for the job but I’d rather go for an ale, unfortunately London Pride doesn’t contain enough alcohol to be officially recognised, which is a shame because it’s one of the flattest beers I know, but I promise myself to search and find the ideal beer. There are a couple of brewers at the tracks and some of their beers are very good candidates.

Speaking of brewers, I enjoy my rest time by drinking a few pints of proper beer while other races take place. I want to stay and watch the elite races. The women are quite impressive, but the men are even more impressive! Corey Bellemore, a Canadian, shatters the World Record with a time of 4:34! It’s the first time in my life that I witness first hand a World Record in any discipline! Although I wasn’t impressed by everyone: the last of the elite race finished in 8:21 which is 46 seconds slower than me and makes me think that I could join or assemble a French national team!

During these races, I was hitting it off with the brewers and one of the volunteers (another Serpie) came to me with a Wally outfit and asked me if I could run a relay with it. I’m already a Wally, so I sure could! In my team was one of the brewers, another Serpie and Corey Gallagher, the legendary Beer Mile runner who broke the 5 minutes barrier first! I was truly honoured and decided to run up to that standard so I bought a bottle of Solvay Society Brewery‘s Saison for the occasion. It was much much easier to drink and I downed it in one go. I almost didn’t burp and I ran my 400 metres in under 70 seconds, so I made a pretty good effort to get our team to just 5 minutes and 40 seconds. but in the end, Team Canada won and set a new World Record at 4:06!
[Watch the video of the race on Trackie]

French Bloke is a Wally

French Bloke is a Wally

All in all, I had a splendid day, the recovery isn’t easy but you can be sure I’ll run it again!

The Oatmeal is a runner

If you don’t know Matthew Inman, let me introduce him. He’s the author of the world famous comic blog The Oatmeal. I love the guy, he’s like an American version of me: he’s a fan of Tesla (both the scientist and the car brand) and all thing eco-friendly, he loves science and astronomy, he’s an atheist,  he loves beer, he loves cats, he has the sense of humour of a 6 years old (and yes, I find it funny), but most of all, he runs!

The comparison doesn’t stop here, we both started to run for very similar reasons: I explained my reasons in a silly post, he explains his very well in his comic “The Blerch“.

A photo posted by theoatmeal (@theoatmeal) on

I give advice for running long distance, so does he in a hilarious comic:

A photo posted by theoatmeal (@theoatmeal) on

I tried to give you motivation and inspiration, so does he:

A photo posted by theoatmeal (@theoatmeal) on

I tend to see running as a form of meditation, so does he.

Really, the only real difference between us is that my blog is way more famous than his – or maybe it’s the other way around since he now organises his own races: “Beat the Blerch” and he’s sponsored by big ass brands like Saucony.

Drinking & Running Races

I’ve already spoken of the intimate relationship between running and drinking, but sometimes this relationship is just too strong. Indeed, some crazy runners (or geniuses?) organise races involving running and drinking at the same time! I put together a list of such glorious races:

Beer

You already know that there are non alcoholic beers specifically brewed for runners, but there are also races for beer lovers:

  • Beer Mile: it is the most famous race that includes drinking in its rules: 4 laps, 4 beers. Each beer must be consumed before the lap begins. There’s even a Beer Mile World Classic (🇬🇧) in London next month, of course I’ll be part of that! And if you miss it, there’s the Flotrack Beer Mile (🇺🇸) in Texas next December as well as the Beerfit Running Series (🇺🇸) all across the USA.
  • Kastenlauf: this is the historical parent of the Beer Mile. This tradition dates back to 1982 in Munich and has many variants, the main one involves teams of 2 runners carrying a crate of beer between them and having to drink all of it before the finish line. Races include the Zurich Bierathlon (🇨🇭), the Welde Bierathlon (🇩🇪), the Schöndelter Bierathlon (🇩🇪), the Büdesheimer Biermarathon (🇩🇪) and probably many more.
  • Beer Lovers Marathon (🇧🇪): it obviously takes place in Belgium, in Liège to be precise. It is a standard 42.195 km marathon but you can find local beers at the rest stops along the course. Fancy dressing is mandatory and it looks like great fun with proper Belgian beer.
  • Great Breweries Marathon (🇧🇪): once again, the Belgian having the best beers in the world, only them could organise such an event: racing through several iconic breweries including the ones that brew Duvel and Karmeliet (yummy)! You can drink during the race, and you come back with a gift basket (full of beer, of course).
  • Shamrock 5K Beer Run (🇺🇸): unlike the name suggests, this one doesn’t take place in Ireland but in Indianapolis and Chicago in the glorious US of A. There is beer served at each stop and a pint at the end. It might be worth a detour, especially since the sponsors are not those brewers producing some infamous American light beer (which in my book equals to donkey piss) but a selection of some of these wonderful American craft brewers that gave rise to the revival of proper craft beer in the past decade.
  • Beer Belly Running (🇬🇧): not really a race, it is more an organiser of various running and beer drinking events in good old London, UK. I particularly like the Beat the Barrel race, which is a real team effort. But this year it has been replaced by the Great British Beerathon, which also involves eating on top of the drinking. What a shame I can’t make it on that day…
  • There are plenty of other running events involving beer, like the Brewery Running Series (🇺🇸) and the Alamo Beer Challenge (🇺🇸), but not during the race, as far as I could gather.

Wine

If beer is very much a thing in Germany, Belgium, the UK and the USA, a lot of wine runs will be found in France (of course) but not exclusively:

  • Marathon du Médoc (🇫🇷): as it claims on its homepage, it’s the longest marathon in the world. For those who don’t know, the Médoc is the superior kind of Bordeaux wine. So the day after the run, you’ll have a posh hungover and posh sore legs. It was created in 1984, so now it is quite an institution!
  • Marathon du Beaujolais (🇫🇷): the wines of the Beaujolais region don’t have quite the same reputation as the wines from Bordeaux, but it is my native region so I have a particular affection for this one, even though it doesn’t run through my village. I know people who ran it and it is epic.
  • Marathon du Vignoble d’Alsace (🇫🇷): if red wine isn’t your thing but you’d sell your mother for a glass of white, this is the race for you! Alsace is renowned for its luscious Gewurtztraminer, Sylvaner and Pinot Gris. And after the race, you can fill up your belly with the best sauerkraut and sausages.
  • Wineathlon (🇬🇧): this is actually a series of 10K races where wine will be served at rest stops. Even though these races are close to me now, I wouldn’t dare going there, knowing the quality of the wine that’s usually served in the UK.
  • Half Corked Marathon (🇨🇦): well Canada, that’s unexpected of you!
  • Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon (🇺🇸): yeah, there had to be a race in California in this list. Nope, not even moaning about it.
  • Wicked Wine Run (🇺🇸), The Ultimate Wine Run (🇺🇸): Run and drink bad wine all across the USA, yay!
  • I could find some other wine related races, such as the Maratona delle città del vino (🇮🇹), the Media maratón por los caminos del vino (🇦🇷), the Idaho Wine Run (🇺🇸), the Texas Wine Series (🇺🇸), Fuelled by Wine (🇺🇸), the St Clair Vinyard Half Marathon (🇳🇿) and the Winery Run (🇦🇺) but it seems you can only drink after the race. What a shame.
Marathon du Médoc

Marathon du Médoc Photo by Kinolamp

Spirits

You’d imagine that there would be a whisky race in Scotland or a whiskey race in Ireland but I couldn’t find any although it seems prizes in these lands are more often in the golden liquid form than in real golden monies. No tequila run in Mexico or rum marathon in the Caribbean either. Anyway, there are still some race based on spirits:

  • Vodka Trot (🇺🇸): I thought the Russians or the Poles would come up with such an insane race concept, but it had to be the Yanks…
  • Although I couldn’t find many races where you could drink spirits during the race, there are some races where you can enjoy a good spirit after the race such as the Semi-Marathon de l’Armagnac (🇫🇷) and the Marathon du Cognac (🇫🇷), and there’ll be good food too.

I’m sure I missed plenty of running events involving drinking and if you know of any, please add it it the comments!

Updates

Of beer and running (again)

Shortly after having written about the special connection between running and alcohol (and beer in particular), I stumbled upon 2 articles about beers made specifically for runners, so I had to write a follow-up.

It is true that running is getting really trendy nowadays: now there are runners everywhere all the time (in London, it’s crazy), running events beat their attendance numbers every year and many cities have created their own marathon or 10k recently. It is also true that beer, and craft beer in particular, is making a big come back since a few years: there’s not a day you don’t hear about a new micro-brewery that just opened, and old craft breweries are making their revival.

So it doesn’t come as a surprise that running and beer are coming together. It had to happen: some people made beer for runners! As you would expect, they are both alcohol-free, which is a bit sad but which makes sense.

The first one is Erdinger’s Erdinger Alkoholfrei and Men’s running seem excited about it, but I have mixed feelings. OK, it is isotonic, contains only 125 calories per pint, has a lot of good vitamins and all the good stuff for your body. But despite the fact that is brewed under the Reinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity Law), they are reluctant to call it a beer and call it a “non-alcoholic drink”, and that is fishy. It seems to me that it is just a new way of marketing non-alcoholic beer, which usually tastes like donkey pee, ugh (not that I have ever drank actual donkey pee). I now realise that the photo illustrating my last post about alcohol was a photo of this non-alcoholic beverage and I feel ashamed. In any case, I should try it to form a definitive opinion.

Mikkeller Energibajer

Mikkeller Energibajer – All rights reserved to Mikkeller

The second one is Energibajer by Mikkeller and I’m much more excited about it. First of all, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø (founder of the Mikkeller brewery) advocates it passionately on Munchies. The marketing language and the description are much more appealing to a beer lover like me: ‘On the nose is a mix of peaches, apricots and a slight herbal note. The taste is light bodied and full of grapefruit from the hops with a refreshing finish’. This one too has vitamins and good stuff for your body, but it seems tastier. Then again, I want to taste it to form a definitive opinion. Hopefully I’ll be able to follow-up soon!

The peculiar connexion between running and drinking

I took on running to lose weight. And it worked. OK, I went on a low calorie diet for a couple of months, but after that I went back to my old habits of eating lots of burgers and cakes but I still continued to lose weight (it’s a good motivation to keep on running). So basically, I took on running to eat (or to continue eating). But I have noticed that running has an even stronger connexion to drinking. Sure, you should definitely drink water before and after running (not too much though, overhydration is potentially deadly), but it seems the link is stronger than that, more particularly with drinking alcohol and specifically beer.

First of all, there is this persistent legend that drinking beer is good for recovery after intense efforts and helps avoiding muscle ache. I’ve made some research and it turns out this is utter and complete BS. The legend comes from the fact that Emil Zátopek supposedly used to drink beer not only after running, but also during competition. This too is dubious at best, but the guy was certainly not averse to this beverage and it is said that he drank a glass of Pilsner Urquell every day. He also reportedly drank a whole bottle of Becherovka (the Czech version of Jägermeister) and still beat Hungarian olympian József Kovács in a running duel right after. I like this guy more and more.

Running beer

A running beer – Photo by Pedro Plassen Lopes

Also, in my experience, runners are thorough drinkers. Lanky Pole and the Quiet Roman are obvious examples of beer loving runners, but Lanky Pole pretends there are even bigger drinkers in his running club. I myself am tempted to join the Mikkeller Running Club, created by one of my favourite breweries: Mikkeller the Dane (you ought to try their sour beers and their barley wines).

Another obvious connexion between drinking and running is the Beer Mile, a race for which you must run four 400m laps and drink a beer before each lap. A challenge I intend to take up one day, although I certainly won’t come close to the current World Record of 4 minutes and 47 seconds. Will anyone ever break the four minutes barrier and will there be an epic race like when Roger Bannister was paced by Chris Chataway (you must remember him for his historic faceplant)? I doubt we’ll ever see that.

To conclude, it seems that “I run to drink” is a more common motto than “I run to eat”. By the way, you should follow the eponym Facebook page or Instagram feed, I find it quite funny (and very true).

New year… New goals!! #iruntodrink

A photo posted by IRUNTODRINK (@iruntodrink) on

Of the usefulness of the skill of running

If you’ve read Born to run, you know that in the distant past, running was probably the most useful skill available to us (if you haven’t read it yet, read it now). Actually, it was essential for survival: on a daily basis, you needed to be able to run away to the nearest tree in case you were chased by a lion, and since you hadn’t invented weapons yet, the only hunting technique was to run after an antelope until it died of exhaustion. True story! The silly animals can run fast yet they can’t run for long since they have to stop to pant and cool down. But us clever bipeds, can go on for hours: running on two legs allows us to control our breathing and to desync it from our stride if needed, and we can also sweat, which is a stinky but efficient way to cool down our body.

Somewhere around the bronze age, we’ve invented the spear and the bazooka which made hunting much easier. We’ve invented dynamite for efficient and ethical fishing. And because we’re lazy but cunning bastards, we’ve even convinced our food to stay put in our fields and wait to be turned into tasty burgers. So nowadays, running seems pretty useless at first glance. But I want to argue that it is actually useful in the 21st century.

Let’s take bus hunting for example. That’s an activity Londoners often engage in after a night of boozing outside of zone 1. On a Friday not so long ago, I found myself precisely in that situation. Having duly honoured the production of a delightful micro-brewery in Walthamstow, I embarked on the journey home. Citymapper informed me that the next bus was arriving in 5 minutes and the following one in 45 minutes. If I didn’t want to freeze to death for 40 minutes, I had to catch the first one, even though the bus stop was 9 minutes away walking. So I jogged away at an easy pace, with a gentle mid-foot strike (heel striking would have been impossible with my dress shoes) and I arrived just in time to catch the bus, not even out of breath in the slightest. Come to think of it, I have to run a beer mile one day…

Beer - Photo by Quinn Dombrowski

Beer – Photo by Quinn Dombrowski

Avoiding to spend 40 minutes in the cold waiting for the bus should be a pretty good argument for the usefulness of the skill of running, but you don’t seem convinced. How about better sex? Ah ah, I knew I would get your attention with that one! I’m telling you, the ability to shag without being out of breath after 5 minutes is appreciable and appreciated. And I’m not the only one to say that runners are better in bed.

Now I can tell you’re convinced: running is a useful skill! And as a bonus, I believe that marathon-finishers deserve bragging rights for life. I’m working on it and by the end of next year, I should be able to bore you to death with all my bragging. In the meantime, any takers on my offer for a beer mile in my friendly company?

Why I run

I have never really been a couch potato but I’ve never been the greatest sportsman either. Since I was a young lad, I have thoroughly hated football (and I still do to this day), fencing and judo didn’t agree with me either. I’ve enjoyed rugby union for a while, but the sports I really liked were skiing, snowboarding, roller-blading and climbing, most of which I still practise today. But running? Hell no! I have done it on and off for years to try and stay fit but I hated it almost as much as football, although I’ve always been fascinated by marathon and ultra runners (but that’s another story).

I have never really been a couch potato but since I arrived in London 4 years ago, I succumbed to British real ales and burgers and they made me chubby. Bastards.
So I started to say things like “I’m fat” fishing for compliments and replies like “Don’t worry, you’re not”. But Lanky Pole was brutally honest with me and told me “Yes you are”. Bastard.
I’m sure he had planned everything from the beginning: spending three years getting wasted on beer together twice a week, finishing the nights eating greasy fried chicken to get me fat, then convince me that the solution to my ‘comfortable’ body was to run. Bastard.
Then we spent an hour in Greenwich Park so he could show me a good running form, unfold a stretching routine and tell me to ask the Quiet Roman to help me choose a good pair of shoes. The Quiet Roman advised for a pair of Altra and innocently recommended me to read Born To Run by Christophe McDougall. Bastards.
I got hooked by the damn book. I began to appreciate the feeling and the lightness of the mid-foot strike. I understood that what I hated in running was sounding and feeling like an elephant at each step. I loved the elegance of this running form, and I stopped hating running. Bastards.
It took me several weeks to change this absence of hatred into active love. Now I hope I’ll never stop.

I have never really been a couch potato and I don’t want to become one. That’s why I began running, but it’s not the reason I’m still doing it. I run because I love the feeling of freedom, I love that I feel my body, my muscles and my feet, I love the ‘high’ it gives me for the rest of the day. I also have to admit that I secretly love pushing my boundaries and the electric atmosphere of a race. Thank you Bastards!

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