The sixth WUS Beer Mile embraced quality (and legality) over quantity. Previous venues have included the old St Alban’s cinder track (a bit long at 500 meters, and highly illegal), Martha’s mother’s house (a bit long at 0.3 mile to get around the block, and inconveniently located in the suburbs), and the upper portion of Soapstone Valley Trail (uncertain length, narrow and tricky footing for a beer mile, and once again, highly illegal). In the five years since the last beer mile, WUS has suffered the dual calamities of a global pandemic and a tidal wave baby boom. Each has taken a significant toll on WUS attendance. But WUS is a tenacious little bugger, and just when we thought it might be time to throw it on the undertaker’s cart, it moaned, “NOT DEAD YET!” and people started to show up again.

To capitalize on this small bit of momentum, Martha hoped that a Beer Mile in a perfect venue would bring back a bit of the magic of the halcyon days of yon. But the Soapstone Valley trail is under construction. Try as we might, we struggled to come up with an alternate venue that 1) provided a (roughly) quarter-mile course, 2) would be accessible in the city, without driving, for WUS regulars, and 3) wouldn’t lead to any sort of legal issues, should the Po-Po (who tend to frown upon drinking in public) arrive. Bonus if it was close to someplace we could congregate afterward. We thought and thought until we could think no more! (To be honest, it didn’t take that much thinking to arrive at that state.) Just when all hope seemed lost, we realized that, like Dorothy’s ruby slippers, the answer had been with us all along! Our house! Less than a quarter mile from the usual WUS meeting spot, it would be fairly accessible to the regulars. Our large two-car garage backs to a very lightly-used alley that is, by chance, exactly an eighth of a mile to the street. Drinking could be done on our private property, and post-race congregating could happen on the back patio! It was all too perfect!

The first WUS Beer Mile, in 2011, attracted 30 or so runners, and just about as many gawkers. Later editions usually attracted at least a dozen or so runners, and maybe half as many gawkers. But in these trying times, it was clear that attendance at this Beer Mile was going to be extremely light. Would there even be enough runners to hold the race? Such troubling thoughts occurred to us! How sad it would be to have to call off the event! What a stain it would be on the honor of WUS not to be able to muster even enough runners/drinkers to hold a proper Beer Mile!

But intrepid runners Trevor, JLD, and Luke arrived, ready to race, excited to know that they would all be assured podium spots. Sue and Bella the pup came, and were assigned traffic control duties–manning the one blind corner that would be troublesome should a car happen to roll into the alley. Grandma Jill was ready to dominate the quarter/quarter event (one quarter of a beer, and a quarter mile run), and Bjorn was looking to dominate the three-and-under division (taking sips of water, then running an undetermined distance back-and-forth in the alley).

RunnerLap 1Lap 2Lap 3FinalNotes
Trevor1:574:086:178:24Led from wire-to-wire; bodes well for Big Summer!
Luke2:134:346:478:55First Beer Mile; Came from behind to take silver
JLD1:594:266:559:40Managed to stay on the podium!
Martha3:126:338:5615:522.5 Beer/Toddler Shepherd Division
Bjorn5:58??????15:52Three-And-Under Division
Grandma Jill5:58N/AN/A5:58Quarter/Quarter
Trevor wonders if a couple guys binge drinking in a backyard is no longer a sport, just alcoholism.

After the run, we congregated on the back patio over Vace pizza and (yes) more beers. Though there was some concern at the beginning of the evening, we all agreed that the event had been a wild success! Prizes were distributed from the highly curated collection of random objects Martha found around the house. Trevor and JLD went for the kids toys, while Luke chose the book-and-DVD multimedia package, seeming determined to find a way to play the DVD despite lacking a DVD player. (His fierce determination that moved him into second place quashed any doubt that we might have had about his resolve!) Martha, Grandma Jill, and Bjorn got an unexpected prize when Sue offered to hook them up with tickets to a children’s National Symphony Orchestra concert “Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs” at Strathmore Hall on Sunday. Bjorn celebrated with an hour-long dance party that mommy occasionally joined.

Perhaps the biggest prize of the evening went to Martha’s friends, Josh and Jess, who showed up late to gawk and eat Vace. When none of the victors took the random autographed baseball that we found in a secret compartment of a bed that conveyed with our house, and has been sitting on a shelf ever since, Josh offered to try to figure out its provenance. Being a journalist who hosts a popular sports podcast (Hang Up And Listen), he was able to post a few pictures for his vahhhst Twitter following to sort out. They made quick work of it and determined the ball was signed by the 1964 Chicago Cubs, including two Hall of Famers. Even Grandma Jill has heard of shortstop Ernie Banks. To his credit Josh tried to return it, but there are no take-backsies in Beer Miles. It just goes to show: You never know what wondrous, unexpected treat you’ll bring home from a WUS Beer Mile! (Just ask the Beer Milers who won the year Martha attended a pork expo.)


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