The return of the Beer Mile World Classic to the United States after an 8-year hiatus was highly anticipated, and it did not disappoint. The deepest beer mile fields ever assembled gathered in Chicago for the 9th annual World Classic on July 1, 2023 to duke it out for world titles, records, and glory.
Shelby Houlihan Becomes First Woman to Break the 6-Minute Barrier with a 5:43 Beer Mile
Much like the men's 5-minute beer mile barrier that was once thought impossible a decade ago, the 6-minute barrier for women stood the test of time — until the 2023 Beer Mile World Classic.
Shelby Houlihan crushed the barrier, finishing in 5:43 with a 63-second final 400m with four beers in her stomach, breaking the previous world record mark of 6:16 by 33 seconds. She ran her mile in roughly 4:25, which was quicker than most elite men covered the distance, and consumed her 4 beers in roughly 1:18.
Houlihan is currently 2.5 years into a 4-year suspension from track and field for a failed drug test (throughout the 2.5 years since her ban she has tested clean dozens of times). Because of the ban, and based on input from the other female athletes competing, the Beer Mile World Classic determined Houlihan was not eligible for the Women's Championship Race this year while the event works to develop a formal policy for athletes competing under a track and field suspension.
However, the official beer mile rules have never required athletes to test in order to have their results ratified. For over 25 years, beermile.com has relied on video evidence alone to prove legitimacy of a beer mile result and have it marked as 'Official' in the database. Further, the World Classic and athletes competing agreed to have Houlihan race in a non-championship heat. The beer mile is a community-focused, inclusive sport that does value integrity, but isn't restricted by having some outside governing body dictate process and timelines for bans.
Thus, Houlihan's time was world record eligible as she followed all rules outlined. Houlihan did not violate any rules regarding her ban and got pre-approvals ahead of the event by the required governing bodies.
View the full 2023 Beer Mile World Classic Race Recap
View results here
Watch Shelby Houlihan's 5:43 Beer Mile
Watch the Full 2023 Beer Mile World Classic Broadcast
Photos from Shelby Houlihan's 5:43 Beer Mile
Photos courtesy of Lauren Zumbach and Griffin (@grffn.ii)