Sports | August 13, 2020 8:24 am

Beers, Bomb Suits and Blue Jeans: The Weirdest Mile-Run Records Known to Man

13 baffling ways humans have covered 5,280 feet

weirdest mile run records

The running and drinking communities have long shared an unlikely Venn diagram. In the 1930s, some athletes would bring beer along for lengthy workouts, believing that its hearty grains might propel them to longer distances. For decades, at the end of the Berlin Marathon, runners who’ve made the podium are given medals and enormous boots of Erdinger. And these days, running clubs like Toronto’s RUNTOBEER start and finish at breweries around the city. Hell, there’s even a craft brewery in Chico, California, called Sufferfest that’s operated by lifelong runners and makes light, low-calorie ales designed for the highly active beer drinker.

Still, there is no greater (nor less subtle) collision of these two disciplines than the infamous Beer Mile, a concept that is arguably more popular than any internationally sanctioned event in the entire sport of track and field. It’s an irresistible blend — the familiarity of elementary-school gym class with the low-class hijinks of college — and it’s at the forefront of an unofficial, utterly unasked-for movement in both the amateur and professional running circles: run four laps hard, but make it weird.

In the last five months, runners have set two new, preposterously specific mile-run records: one while handcuffed, and one while wearing a pair of blue jeans. It would be tempting to laugh these efforts off, if only they weren’t so fast. (The jeans miler rumbled in at an unholy 4:06.) And really, at the end of the day, it’s fun to embrace these races, which wed the appeal of an old, oft-forgotten sport with stunts and gimmicks that thrive on social media.

Which is exactly what we’ve done. Below, find the 13 weirdest mile-run records known to man — including the fastest miles ever run in a bomb suit, with a dog and under the influence of chocolate milk.

Fastest Beer Mile


Corey Bellemore, 4:33
Bellemore actually ran a 4:24 about a year after his 4:33 mark, but got disqualified for leaving a combined 4.5 ounces of beer in his “empties.” Those judges are serious. As is his running ability; he’s an Adidas-sponsored athlete with a personal best of 3:57 to his name. Which is a crucial theme in the world of wacky mile records: always eager for a challenge, the pros inevitably hijack the bonkers creations of layman runners. Just six years ago, for instance, the running world had celebrated its first sub-five beer mile. Check out the full catalogue of all-time bests here, including stats on the favored beers. (Budweiser is currently in the lead, though Bellemore, a Canadian, prefers the craft stuff from Ontario’s Flying Monkeys Brewery.)

Fastest Mile in Jeans


Johnny Gregorek, 4:06
This past May, Asics athlete Johnny “The Jet” Gregorek ran a blistering 4:06 in a pair of Levi 501s. It was enough to beat Dillion Maggard’s former record time of 4:11, and horrify millions across the internet who think wearing jeans on a plane should be a “criminal offense.” Gregorek, who is a middle-distance star with a silver medal from the 2019 Pan American Games, trained for his record by running 100-meter sprints in the blue jeans to break them in. On race day, he also managed to raise $31,000 for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in an homage to his late brother. Levi’s donated $5,000.

Fastest Walking Mile


Tom Bosworth, 5:31
Of all the feats listed here, this is the only one that doesn’t actually involve running. And yet, it’s also the only one you’re likely to find at a legitimate track meet. Racewalking is very much a sport, despite the fact that it looks like several minutes of that “This one is serious” dash people make for the bathroom after eating bad shellfish. The only rule? Keep one foot in contact with the ground at all times, which distinguishes it from the leaps and bounds of running. Distances usually start at 3,000 meters, and hike all the way up to 100 kilometers (that’s 62 miles), but mile races have some popularity, too. At the 2017 Diamond League in London, British race walker Tom Bosworth clocked in at 5:31, to the delight of a very excited commentator.

Fastest Mile Downhill


Mike Boit, 3:27
We recently covered a virtual, March Madness-style running tournament called “Survival of the Fastest,” in which runners were pitted against each other each week to race a new, specific distance. Downhill racing was allowed in the competition (even encouraged) and by the time the bracket had been whittled down to a final four, every runner involved was hitting start on Strava from the top of a mountain in order to ensure the most competitive time possible. It really does make an absurd difference. Hicham El Guerrouj has holds the official world record for the mile run (3:43), but Mike Boit’s performance in 1983, when he sprinted down a hill through the center of Auckland to a 3:27 finish, is the fastest a human being has ever covered 1,600 meters on his own two feet.

Fastest Mile in Alaska


Ben Blankenship, 3:57
“An Alaskan Mile” was an official selection for the Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival in 2018, and it chronicles an effort by eight elite runners — with Oregon and Olympian pedigrees among them — to become the first to break the four-minute barrier on Alaskan soil. As Trevor Dunbar (one of the runners, the event organizer and from Kodiak, himself) points out, Alaska only has three months where such an accomplishment would be remotely possible, and even then, high winds or even frost could arrive right before the gun goes off. It’s worth the 20-minute watch if you’re interested, but just know that Alaskans were amped to see Minnesotan Ben Blankenship go well under four, setting a new state record.

Fastest Mile on a Treadmill


Anthony Famiglietti, 3:58
It’s Anthony Famigletti’s party, and he’ll run a 3:58 mile on a treadmill if he wants to. A former Olympian who competed in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in Beijing, Famiglietti recruited the fastest American miler ever, Alan Webb (3:46), to help him start breaking four-minute miles into his forties. It worked. This is Famiglietti late last year, on his 41st birthday, running at a 3:58 pace for a full mile on his treadmill. Forget anything you’ve heard about treadmills juicing performance; that’s irrelevant here. Him staying on that machine is akin to deftly canoeing through Class V rapids. And better yet, he got to do it at his own Reckless Running store in Mooresville, North Carolina, which he owns with his wife.

Fastest Mile with a Dog


Anthony Famiglietti, 3:59
More Famigletti. Another impressive sub-four — this one a year earlier, at age 40 — but all credit here goes to Bailey the dog, who casually rolled out of bed to brush against the pinnacle of human athletic achievement, and wanted more. Famigletti affixed Bailey to his waist via a hands-free “bungee” leash (which doesn’t exactly square with our dog running tips, by the way) and ran hard to earn his time. But the fact that Bailey basically dragged an adult 5,280 feet and didn’t once chase a squirrel is the real takeaway here.

Fastest Backwards Mile


Aaron Yoder, 5:54

The Guinness World Record for fastest backpedaled mile ended with the following exchange:

Guinness: (checks notes, it’s indeed a record) “Have a good day.”

Yoder: (nods) “Bye!”

Seems about right.

Fastest Chocolate Milk Mile


Mars Bishop, 4:56
On paper, it’s the PG-rated beer mile. But subbing chocolate milk for beer is no joke, and arguably more likely to end in puke penalties. At the 2nd Annual Chocolate Milk Mile in Cranston, Rhode Island, runners slugged cups of the good stuff from East Providence’s Munroe Dairy Farm. A number of runners had to run shame laps for spewing, but runner Mars Bishop torched the track to the tune of 4:56. Because the rules to the Chocolate Milk Mile are exactly the same as the Beer Mile, beermile.com has apparently decided to include the results in its database. (Under beer of choice, they put a chocolate milk logo.) With all respect to Bishop, this record — from 2017 — seems ready to be broken again.

Fastest Mile While Handcuffed


Jeremy Greenwald, 4:52
Save your “running from the cops” jokes, YouTube’s finest have already handled that. Besides, we’re legitimately interested in this from a physical standpoint. Despite the amount of long-distance runners you see without much meat on their arms, the mile is a bang-bang event, where many competitors rely on a dramatic, arm-pumping “kick” in their last lap. To break five with those arms rendered useless is a real challenge. It’s clear from the video that Greenwald, a former Division 1 runner at Georgia Tech, had to rely heavily on his core muscles while keeping his shoulders straight and back; after all, if he fell, the whole thing was over. The previous record for this “event” was 6:37.

Fastest Mile in a Bomb Suit


Daniel Glenn, 8:57
Advanced Bomb Suits weigh 80 pounds, and are reinforced with Kevlar ballistic panels that can withstand blasts traveling at supersonic speeds of over 1,600 m/s. If you’ve seen The Hurt Locker, you have an idea of how serious they are: soldiers routinely get heat exhaustion from just walking around a few paces in one, so for Lt. Daniel Glenn to complete a full mile in one is unheard of. But to do so at the clip of an average American mile time (nine to 10 minutes) is staggering. Even more impressive: he did it in Florida.

Fastest Mile While Juggling


Zach Prescott, 4:43
Yeah, you were probably going to get through your entire life without discovering that “joggling” existed, and you would’ve been just fine. Sorry. Joggling is running while juggling three objects in time, and for decades, Kirk Swenson was the undisputed king of the sport. He joggled a 4:43.8 way back in 1986. Then Boston University runners Zach Prescott came along, and threw three lacrosse balls around en route to a buzzer-beater 4:43.2 victory. Guinness World Records is still in the process of verifying the new record.

Fastest Mile in Death Valley While Wearing a Darth Vader Suit


Jonathan Rice, 6:13
This happened and and there is NOTHING any of us can do about it.

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