A beer mile is a drinking race combining running and speed drinking. Typically, the race takes place on a standard 400 meter or 1/4 mile running track. The race begins at the 1-mile starting line with the consumption of a standard amount of beer, followed by a full lap around the track. The second lap continues in a similar manner; the standard amount of beer is consumed before commencing the running of the second lap. This process is repeated for the next two laps. Following the completion of the fourth running lap (and four beers), a competitor has finished the race. More specific rules of the race vary by region.
North American tradition
In North America, typically, 12 US ounces of beer is consumed from an aluminum can before every lap. Since the advent of the internet, the rules of the Beer Mile have become more standardized, particularly in the United States and Canada. The standard rules published by BEERMILE.COM are based on the most common rules used in North America. These rules specify that any competitor that vomits prior to finishing the race must complete a penalty lap immediately following the fourth lap. The penalty lap does not require the drinking of an additional beer. The standard rules also dictate that the beer be consumed directly from the pour of the can (i.e. tampering with the cans, such as "shotgunning", is not allowed). The beer used for the competition must also be full-strength, or at least 5.0% ABV. Hard ciders and other alcoholic beverages are generally not allowed.
The fastest recorded beer mile is as of April 28th, 2014, 4:57.7 completed by James Nielsen and he is now recognized as the current record holder. His beer of choice was Budweiser. The previous winner Josh Harris of Australia had a record of 5:04.9  Much like the four-minute barrier in the mile run, the five-minute barrier tempts beer-milers world wide.
In the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, an imperial pint (20 imperial ounces) typically is consumed before every lap, with no specification of the drinking vessel but pint glasses are preferred for the speed in which the beverage can be finished. The one lap penalty for "chundering" is not generally enforced.
A variation allows female competitors to consume one fewer beer than the male competitors. Females are allowed to begin the first running lap without consuming a beer. This rule is often enacted to encourage participation from females.
While full strength beer is generally the preferred beverage, some races allow consumption of alternative beverages such as light beer, malt beverages, or milk.
The beer mile is often combined with other running/drinking events such as the:
- 4 x 40 oz. relay -- where a team of 4 competitors run 100m each around the track, finishing a 40 oz. bottle of beer or malt liquor on the way
- Wild Turkey 2-mile -- each competitor runs 8 laps, with a shot of whiskey (usually Wild Turkey) before every lap.
- naked 4 x 400m -- each member of a 4 competitor team runs a lap around the track nude - drinking is technically optional, but encouraged
- The Pure Guts race -- variation of the North American beer mile which adds a 5th beer so you are starting and finishing with a chug, and vomitting is permitted and often employed as a strategy. Alternately, this is called the Miller Mile.
Kastenlauf (short for "Bierkastenlauf", literally "beer crate running"), Kistenlauf, Bierlauf, Bierkastenrennen (literally crate-running, beer crate-running, or equivalents), Bier-Rallye, Bierathlon, etc., is a drinking sport in the German-speaking countries Austria, Germany and Switzerland. It is a race among teams that consist of two people carrying a crate of beer, all of which must be consumed prior to crossing the finish line. The route is about 10 km long, although it can vary from half this to twice this.
The name bierathlon is also used for a students' event where participants have to drink a beer in a fixed order in a number of pubs of the city, which is certified by stamps.