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Last Sunday, Chris Kimbrough, a 44-year-old mother of six from Austin, Texas, crushed the women’s beer mile world record by 13 seconds—a record that hasn’t been broken since 1997 when Seanna Robinson ran it in 6:42. In her first attempt at the event, Kimbrough chugged four beers and ran four laps around her son’s middle school track in an impressive 6:28.6.
Originally a fun drinking game run by male college students in Canada, the beer mile has become increasingly popular since it first started in 1989. Even elite athletes such as middle-distance runner and Olympian Nick Symmonds have taken the activity seriously. Symmonds currently is ranked 8th with a time of 5:19 on BeerMile.com’s World Records of Top 100 Male Performances.
The event has become so popular that Flocasts will be putting on its first Beer Mile World Championship in Austin on Dec. 3. The championships are what prompted Kimbrough to attempt the record herself.
“I think it’s just gotten to be such a big deal because I’m not the average joe 20-year-old running the beer mile on the track,” Kimbrough says.
Kimbrough, who runs and trains with the Rogue Racing Team in Austin, has won several masters national championships and even qualified to compete in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon, in which she came in 39th place. However, despite being one of the best local runners her age, Kimbrough didn’t start running competitively until her early 30’s after having four kids. Before focusing on running, she competed in triathlons, in which she says the running portion was always the strongest leg of the race for her.
Although Kimbrough doesn’t race on the track very much, she estimates that she could run 5 minutes in a beer-free mile. Other than speed, though, Kimbrough didn’t do much to prepare for her beer mile run, except for reading the rules and making sure to drink garage-temperature beer because it goes down quicker.
“I did an 800 [with beer] and I ran a 3:18 that day,” Kimbrough says. “So I remember after my third beer in the mile, my husband was counting the time and I heard him say 3:19. I knew I was ahead of the time I did with the 800, so I figured if I can run a 3:18 800 then that’s a 6:40-mile, and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m right where I need to be.’ That definitely motivated me a little bit, but the last beer was very hard to get down. I don’t think there was any room left!”
Looking back at her record breaking beer-mile, Kimbrough says she could have run a faster time if she worked more on her beer chugging skills. “I think that’s the first beer I’ve chugged since college,” she says. It took her roughly a total of 72 seconds to down her beers.
Kimbrough also admits that she’ll be better rested and “stay fresh” for the world championships. She ran 11 miles the morning of her beer-mile attempt and then another mile on the track to warm-up.
In between taking care of her six children, starting massage school this week and training for the upcoming USATF National Club Cross Country Championships in Pennsylvania on Dec. 13, Kimbrough isn’t sure about how much time she’ll have to train for the beer mile champhionships.
“Some guys were telling me I should try training with mineral or carbonated water. But I don’t know, it depends on how much time I have,” Kimbrough says. “It’s all going to come down to who can get their beer down the fastest.”