Kelsey Gustafson succumbing to the beer that had been sloshing around in her stomach. | Photo by Cassaundra Caudillo

Beer, bloat and barf!

A look into Humboldt County's first ever Beer Mile

A look into Humboldt County’s first ever Beer Mile

The air was filled with the putrid smell of vomit and beer as people dressed in running clothes stood next to cases of beer and eagerly awaited the start of the first beer mile.

This past weekend the Humboldt Bay Marathon held a beer mile alongside Halvorsen Park in Eureka. The rules were simple: for every quarter mile you run, you chug a beer. If you’re under 21 and still want to participate, you chug a can of root beer. The first female and male to do an entire mile with less than four ounces left in their beer bottles won.

The calm before the storm… | Photo by Cassaundra Caudillo

The competitors had been training for weeks if not months with varying methods of drinking while they ran their morning route, or chugging 32 ounces of beer, then running a mile as fast as they could. For the kids, it was something to do with their parents who chose to brave out this task.

The woman who came out victorious was Kelly Ridgway, finishing off her fourth beer and dominating all of the runners with her overall time of ten minutes.

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Kelly Ridgway smiling through the bloatedness of just having downed her final beer in 27 seconds before finishing the race. | Photo by Cassaundra Caudillo

She walked into this challenge with training under her belt, having practiced by chugging 32 ounces of beer then running the mile on top of downing double IPAs the day before. Not to mention she’s a Crossfit fiend. As she crossed that finish line, the first to do so that day, not a single ounce of vomit spurted from her mouth.

“I was anticipating this pregnant feeling,” Ridgway said. “It’s a matter of letting the burps out slowly. There were a few people that I saw almost puking and I had to look away to not get that feeling.”

There were a few runners who did not train like the champion for this run, and rather just decided to do it on a whim. This resulted in them not knowing Ridgway’s trick of releasing burps little by little, and many of them puked on the greenery throughout their run.

Kelsey Gustafson is a 29-year-old Humboldt local who now lives in Seattle, and was down here visiting when she heard of the run and thought, “Why not?” She left her all out on the track, as well as some chunks of vomit. Despite the handful of times she puked, she continued chugging those beers down to cross the finish line.

“I’ll be fine,” Gustafson said. “I just need to keep going and finish.”

As she said that she ran to the center divider and proceeded to vomit once again.

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Kelsey Gustafson succumbing to the beer that had been sloshing around in her stomach. | Photo by Cassaundra Caudillo

Some of you may be wondering where this idea came from. The beer mile started on a chilly night at a high school track. From that track in Canada it has spread across the United States.

There are official rules that must be followed, like no wide mouth bottles or ridiculous flow cans that offer an advantage. A penalty lap is added onto the end of the fourth lap for any competitor that vomits.

One lap, regardless of how many times you spew. Beer must be at least 5 percent alcohol by volume. No hard ciders, lemonades or sodas. These are serious rules for a serious challenge.

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Is it a burp or is she going to up-chuck? Only time will tell. | Photo by Cassaundra Caudillo

After many avid runners suggested to the Humboldt Bay Marathon that they should bring a beer mile to the county, Marathon Director Rich Baker and his team made it happen. They passed it with the city of Eureka and were able to coordinate it with local breweries including The Booth Brewery, Eel River Brewing Company and Six Rivers Brewery.

“It might be something we do every three to four months, we might do it twice a year, I don’t know,” Baker said. “It’s looking like a success right now.”

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This is when he began to re-think all of his choices that led him up to this point. | Photo by Cassaundra Caudillo

Full history of the beer mile and list of official rules:

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