What it’s like to “choggle”

Four beers, four laps, three juggling balls – joggling the beer mile.

By Michal Kapral

I ran a joggling beer mile last night in 8 minutes and 48 seconds – that’s four beers, four laps around the track, every step of the running while simultaneously juggling three beanbags. For those of you who are into strange combinations of things that involve running, this is how it went down.

Scene: Dusk, an undisclosed high school track, for the 2016 Toronto Classico Beer Mile.

The characters: A ragtag bunch of mostly men who enjoy beer and running, and tonight, combining the two. And I, Michal Kapral, a runner who enjoys juggling while I run and drinking beer – and tonight, running while juggling and drinking beer.

Two years ago I ran the world’s first joggling beer mile at this same event, finishing in a sluggish 11:18, which included a penalty lap for vomiting. My beer was much too cold and almost impossible to chug. Now I’m back for revenge to break my official record that’s still logged at beermile.com, the site that keeps track of all things beer mile. Since then, at least two other guys have done joggling beer miles, including an incredible 7:30 by Adam Merritt in San Francisco last year. My goal is to break 7:30, or at least top my previous mark.

My beer of choice this time is bottles of Kingfisher lager, an Indian beer brewed in the U.S. Canada’s Corey Bellemore downed this brand when he set the world non-joggling beer mile record recently, and they fit the 5 per cent alcohol, 355 ml specs for the official beer mile regulations.

As soon as the gun goes off to start the race, I immediately have a big problem. My Kingfishers are not twist-offs and my bottle opener is terrible. I spend the first 10 seconds fumbling with the bottle cap. Some other competitors are finishing up their beers as I start mine.

Next problem is I’m an awful chugger. I’ve watched YouTube “How to chug a beer” videos, I’ve practiced at home, even resorting to chugging water. Expert chugger friends have offered me advice – “pretend you’re sword-swallowing,” “swallow before the beer hits the back of your throat,” “just open your throat the let the beer fall down”) – but none of that seems to help.

I glug my first beer down as fast as I can but it takes a good 25 seconds. I grab my beanbags and take off for my first lap. It always takes a while before the alcohol kicks in. If you run the beer mile fast enough, you don’t feel anything until after you finish. I want to get this thing done before I get drunk. My joggling feels smooth around the first bend, but a series of huge burps nearly cause me to drop a ball. Burping while running and juggling is really hard.

First lap was under 70 seconds, no drops, and I’m ready for beer number two. This one opens up much faster, but I struggle with the second chug. I think about just how good the pro beer milers are at chugging while out of breath. Second beer takes ages to finish.

Lap two of joggling is pretty rough. The gaseous liquid sloshes in my stomach, and I let off a long string of belches for more than 200m of the lap. Still no drops and I’m at beer three. This one goes down nicely. I’m thirsty and actually enjoying the flavour of the lager as I pour it down my gullet.

Starting to feel a bit woozy on the third lap. I focus mightily on trying not to drop a ball, while maintaining a good pace. Again, the random burps totally throw off my joggling rhythm.

When I hit my final beer in the 10-metre transition zone at 6 minutes and 40 seconds, I’m feeling good. My wife Dianne and two kids, Annika, 13, and Lauryn, 11, are there to cheer me on. I’m glad to be such a great role model to my children! Fired up by their cheers, I grab my beanbags and charge into the last lap. With 200m to go, the booze hits me.

Do you know what it’s like to run at high speed while tossing and catching a ball with every stride, while at the same time getting progressively more inebriated with each step? Your brain is essentially at war with itself – part of it telling you to make perfect tosses and push your running speed to the limit, another section of your brain urging you to whip the beanbags into oblivion, stop running, drop to the ground and roll around on the infield laughing maniacally. That’s how I feel as I round the final bend.

But I manage to fight off the drunk part of my brain and somehow hold my focus to finish drop-free in 8:48.77. I’m calling this sport choggling, and I will be back. Next time with a better bottle opener and maybe some sword-swallowing training.