Friday, December 16, 2011

Vertical Beer Mile 2011

The VBM start line

When you mix a rugby playing background with a hill running present, it would appear that you end up with a vertical beer mile champion. That's right folks, Sir Clark came back to The Hill and proved once again that he can outdrink, outrun and outplay any and all challengers, and we had 22 of them this year.

Dakota Jones may claim some obscure record in the Grand Canyon or a top finish and a bunch of coin from some corporate race out in the wilds of Marin County, but put him on the purest of big stages - one mile, 750 feet of vertical gain and 48 oz of froth - and the kid clearly needs some tutoring. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The sound of the gun had barely finished echoing around the valley floor before I was off and running, Banquet Beer no.1 still finding its way down the pipes. Poof, gone, nobody in front, just footsteps and some loud eruptions behind. Horsecow Lonac was along for the ride, and by beer aid one it looked like it was going to be a two horse race, with Pete and Alex the only other competitors working their second beer as Horsecow and I took off for the second quarter in search of our third beer.

Horsecow looked like he wanted to make a race of it, and we hit beer three together, both taking a few seconds to get our breathing under control before hitting the froth. Again, I was a second or two quicker on the guzzle, even managing to pull away slightly on the flatter section of the third quarter before rescinding the lead on the steep stuff as we drew close to the final beer station. But I was just catching my breath. Guzzling beers while hyperventilating is best avoided if you want to keep the chunks at bay.

Leaving beer aid three, I had sensed some Horsecow hesitation - maybe even some pain. As we rolled into the final beer stop, the Horsecow banter sounded very much like the flapping of a white flag. Time to twist the knife. My beer was finished before Horsecow had even blown the froth off his beer. The last quarter ended up a victory lap. I hit the tape in 12 minutes and 15 seconds for a six minute PR and CR.

Pulling up the hill I couldn't help but reflect on an awesome season. And the thought came to me that maybe if I could find a way to sell this amazing victory to the ulrarunning world, they might just reconsider propelling me into ultrarunning immortality by lobbying the UROY voters - through the iRunFar discussion forum - to Vote For Nick. I mean, I don't want to toot my own horn, but this VBM defense in course record fashion is come on America, let's make it happen. I've done my part.

Not to get too caught up in the immensity of yesterday's happenings from my own glorious standpoint, I would like to bring attention to the arguably more exciting happenings in the women's race.

Finish line officials: Kristel and Victoria.

Readers of this blog may not be familiar with the name Celeste O'Slusher, but in Fort Collins running and drinking circles the feisty Irish Bostonian is legendary. And lining up at the bottom of the hill, the defending champion was the heavy favorite for the VBM tiara.

But there had been some murmurings from the pack. Another Clark (mispelled with an 'e') had been quietly talking up her drinking powers, while the diminutive Jessie W, a relative newcomer to the Fort Collins trail scene, had been warning anyone who would listen to not underestimate her magical beer consumption prowess. I mean the girl has spent time living and drinking in Hoboken, NJ.

Mindy, Jessie and Lindsay putting away their start line beers.

And so we waited with baited breath and gaseous stomachs at the finish line for lights to emerge.

Would Celeste make the overall podium again?

No, the karmasutra-like grunts coming around the corner were unmistakably Stevensonian. Pete had managed to keep his lunch intact this year for an impressive third-place finish. He was followed a minute later by Mr. Consistency himself, and last year's runner up, Alex May. Seabeck powered across the line another minute in arrears for fifth, and then the excitement hit fever pitch.

Another light, a female form, upset. Mindy came cruising through to pull off an awesome Clark(e) VBM sweep, setting a new female course record in the process. In the close-fought battle for second, Jessie managed to outrun Celeste over the final quarter edging her out of silver by a scant nine seconds. Exciting stuff folks.

The Clark(e) sweep


The pain and the glory. Celeste gives up the tiara.

What happened to Young Money Jones you ask? Not his day, and clearly not his discipline, but unlike his youthful compatriot, Slow Aaron Marks, he did keep his lunch down. Aaron, in a post-race interview, claimed he was merely exacting some revenge after a year of frustration.

"Towers tortures me every week, so this was my chance to puke all over it."

Tough night for Jones.

"And then I drank another beer..."

Your 2011 VBM results:

Nick: 12:15!
Horsecow: 13:00
Pete: 14:56
Alex: 16:11
Dave: 17:32
Mindy: 17:50!
Jessie: 19:01
Celeste: 19:10
Jesse: 19:30
Kyle: 19:49
Mike: 21:05
Dakota: 21:22
SAM: 28:08
Slush: 31:05
Lindsay: 31:05
Sam: 31:06

Sam may have the Towers FKT, but not when there's beer involved. Last place today, bud.


Ginny & Jenn: 19:26
Chris & Steph: 22:08
Mary & Marie: 23:28

Marie showing off the little finger technique, a common trait among French beer drinkers.


  1. Awesome group there, entertaining stuff.

  2. Someone's gotta get SAM training for improvement next year... whether on the drinking or running side.

  3. Bravo! Your best performance ever!

  4. UROY! UROY! UROY! Can we get a cash purse and deem it a CHAMPIONSHIP next year? How about $200,000?

  5. Only one way to decide UROY ... vertical beer mile throw down between you, Mackey and Wardian.

  6. $200K should be easy with New Belgium and Anheuser-Busch in town.

    I might not be able to run 12:15 for that stretch of the hill without beer but there are some fast runners there towards the end of the results who finished slower than I did last year in much worse conditions.

    You can give Young Money grief, but he only had 10 days to properly train, right?

  7. Are you wearing a CRUD shirt? That's almost as repulsive as Horsecow's briefs. Congrats!

  8. HEY BPOW - This doesn't show my "victory" (they say penalty) lap. Do you offer VBM coaching services? (Drink more, run more?).

  9. The teensy cow briefs are disturbing. They are a bit like a car accident: I know I should look away but I can't.

    Aside from that, congrats on the "win," Nick!

  10. Haha awesome post - one of the best posts I've read in quite a while. You've got my UROY vote, and I think you should probably develop a 'new' drink aimed at the ultra-running community. "Clark Beer: the most underrated electrolyte/carb replenishment beverage on the mountain...coming soon to a race near you."

  11. Don't listen to Rob, you were stylin' in that shirt. Your wife must have dressed you that evening.

  12. This is right up there with the Jemez course record. You definitely have my vote for UROY. how do we vote for that? Do I have to click a Like button somewhere, fill out a poll on AJW's blog, comment on iRunFar, or do they just use an old fashioned applause-O-meter?

  13. Well done Nick. 12:15 is stout as well as 13:00. Perhaps you didn't receive the e-mail I sent you a few weeks ago? Looking to get in on a Virtual Vertical Beer Mile Challenge - WNC vs FoCo? Looking to do ours on Jan 8th, I think. We'll post the results and see if we can beat a 12:15 and or 73:54 for our top 5.

  14. Rob - yeah, a CRUD shirt indeed. Given to me by Harry Harcrow a few years ago when I paced him at Leadville for a very long and torturous 25 miles from Fish Hatchery to the finish. Picked for color coordination purposes only. Not too many electric yellow pieces in my arsenal.

    Aaron - you could start by switching your Tuesday night venue from Tempeh Tuesday to the $2 microbrews at the TH.

    Meghan - might be a new line for the iRF store.

    Pete - send AJW a case of brews with your suggestion for UROY. That should do the trick. I hear he has clout over there.

    Rick - spaced on that email. But, yeah, bring it! You'll have to find a mile stretch of similar proportions: 720-750 feet of vert on variable grades with decent footing. Keep us posted.

    This could be the start of something big. Just think, we could have regional heats with a championship race to crown a national king and queen. Sponsorship potential is huge - we could put together the biggest purse the competitive drink/run circuit has ever seen. Patrick, I think you're on to something, buddy.

  15. This is where the money is, Nick. TV friendly (after the non-existent watershed over here, anyway) and with potential beer sponsors. I predict this will be all that's left of trail running in a few years - people will flock to where the money goes.

  16. Way to kick everyones ass. Hands down UROY now that you won the most important race of the year.

  17. but it's not an ultra, how can that be included with UROY? Well done Nick, but watch out, that Dakota guy just needs some more real training....

  18. Nice to see a fellow Brit showing your yank buddies how to drink......

  19. I got to get in the loop for these events. God, those speedos! Were those a special order?

  20. Nick and FoCo crew,
    On behalf of the WNC Trailrunners I want to give a big thanks for the inspiration to plan and execute a VBM (a.k.a Vertic-ALE Mile) ( out east. It was a blast beyond all doubt. We ought organize a larger event and bring together some great running crews- I'll drink to that...

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