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On Your Mark, Get Set, No! A List Of Inadvisable Ways To Run A Mile

It's been 60 years since Roger Bannister became the first person to run a mile in under 4 minutes (you can watch him do it in the video above), and while that's very nice and impressive, we'd like to spend a moment celebrating some lesser-known, far more nauseating, mile-long achievements.

[Editor's note: Please don't try these. They all sound terrible — and are not for the weak of stomach.]

The Beer Mile: The Internet has recently been abuzz over a guy named James Nielsen, who posted a video of himself running what he says is the first sub-5-minute "Beer Mile." A beer mile, for the uninitiated, is a mile run around a track, in which the runner has to down one 12-ounce beer before each of the four laps. Just to keep everybody on the same page, the unofficial website beermile.com has a list of strict rules and regulations such as: no shotgunning, no "super mega mouth cans," and no hard cider or lemonade. Oh, and in case you were wondering (because I definitely was): If you throw up before you finish the race, you have to run a penalty lap at the end. Rules are rules.

The Milk Mile: For underage runners who can't tackle the beer mile until their 21st birthdays, the milk mile is a wholesome, calcium-rich, superdisgusting alternative. Runners must drink half a gallon of milk, chocolate milk or eggnog (yes, eggnog ... Oh, my God, eggnog) and then run a mile. There are many variations of the milk mile — some runners drink between laps instead of at the beginning — and vomiting pre-, mid- and/or post-race seems pretty much expected. (In fact, if you don't like seeing people throw up, I highly recommend NOT clicking on any of the hyperlinks in this paragraph.) Also, don't forget your Lactaid.

The Darth Valley Challenge: Dress up as your favorite Star Wars character, show up in Death Valley on the hottest day of the year, and run a mile. Race founder Jonathan Rice's record — dressed as Darth Vader — is 6:13. "Yes, it's utterly, insanely tough to sprint for a mile in that heat," he writes on his website, "but funnily enough it's the breathing that's hardest — even with new air holes it's still almost impossible to get any air inside the mask." Why does he do it? Mostly for fun, and because it's just his thing: "Some people collect porcelain kittens. I run in the heat," he says. May the force — and a lot of water bottles — be with you.

The Burrito Mile: Rules for the burrito mile (also known as the "Chipotle challenge") appear to be less well codified than the rules for the beer mile. Some runners simply eat a burrito and then run a mile, which sounds uncomfortable but not insane. For folks who have absolutely too much metabolism for their own good, here's another fun option: A runner must eat a specified number of burritos in a certain amount of time — the Internet can't seem to agree on whether it's three burritos or four, and whether they must be consumed in less than 25, 30 or 45 minutes. Then, the runner must run a 7:30 mile or an 8-minute mile. (Again, consensus is hard, especially when you're bloated.) Everyone seems to agree on one thing, though: If you throw up less than two hours after the race, you're disqualified.

The Burpee Mile: Here's a mile challenge that actually rewards athleticism rather than digestive fortitude. To do a single burpee, start out in a standing position, squat down so that your hands touch the ground, kick your feet back, do a pushup, jump back into a squat, and then jump up — or in this case, forward. As far forward as you possibly can. Because in a burpee mile, distance is covered only via the burpee jump; no walking allowed. It takes a very, very long time.

The Naked Mile: Back in the day, there was a Naked Mile at the University of Michigan. Local news footage from 1999 (SFW, believe it or not, so click away!) shows students — who would now be in their mid- to late-30s — enthusiastically giving waist-up interviews that they probably never predicted would one day be archived for all posterity on YouTube. "I think in a week, nobody is going to remember what I look like naked," one participant says. The tradition kept growing and ultimately became a victim of its own success — huge crowds of spectators, some with video cameras, lined the streets, and police started to crack down until the Naked Mile died off in the early 2000s. "I don't blame the police," said one Michigan senior in an April 2001 Michigan Daily article. "I blame the media and the perverts."

Backward, Hula-Hooping, Crawling And More: There's no shortage of quirky mile accomplishments in Guinness World Records. Many of them are held by a man named Ashrita Furman, who holds the records for fastest 1-mile sack race (16:41), fastest mile hula-hooping (11:29), and fastest mile balancing an egg on a spoon (7:08) — to name just a few.

Others include the fastest mile while pushing a car — Konda Sahadev pushing a 5,952-pound van in 11:39; the fastest mile run backward — D. Joseph James in 6:2.35; and the fastest mile while carrying someone else on your shoulders — Steven Jacobs in 11:29.14. And here's a very uncomfortable video of Laura E. D'Asaro, trying to break the record for fastest mile crawled on all fours:

We've no doubt overlooked some impressive mile efforts in this informal survey of ridiculous things people subject themselves to, so please feel free to share your creative mile records in the comments below. Here's one to get you started:

[Disclaimer: NPR does not endorse drinking Franzia while riding a tricycle.]

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Beth Novey is a producer for NPR's Arts, Books & Culture desk. She creates and edits web features, plans multimedia projects, and coordinates the web presence for Fresh Air and Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!
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