The beer mile hit the big time last year with the inaugural FloTrack Beer Mile World Championships. Here are six reasons why we’ll be raising a can (or four) to this year's second running in Austin, Texas.

1. Everyone’s at it

For many varsity student runners, the beer mile represents an end-of-season “rite of passage”, in the words of FloSports co-founder Mark Floreani. While every school would lay claim to producing the best exponents in the art, until last year a true champion had not been crowned, so it made perfect sense for FloSports to organise its maiden world champs.

“Our mission statement at Flo is to grow the sport, the athletes, the events and the fans, and the beer mile was the intersection of mass media into our sport,” Floreani explains. “We wanted to get a bunch of eyes on our sport to show our sport is fun in a form which pushes the limits of entertainment.

“Last year was a tonne of fun. People came dressed in costumes, drinking beer and eating food.”

The free event is staged on a non-traditional athletics track of two near-200m long strips and a tight turn. It allows fans to get up close and personal with the athletes – so close you can smell the hops.

2. Going downtown 

Last year’s event was held at the Circuit of the Americas racetrack, home to the F1 US Grand Prix. This year it will take place at a parking lot in downtown Austin.

Described as a “happy, energetic city” by Floreani, whose company is based in the Texan state capital, he is excited about bringing the event to the heart of the city.

The new location is bordering a riverside jogging trail and he believes the change in venue will create more passing interest from locals. The race is only five blocks away from Sixth Street, Austin's famous entertainment hub, where there are many places to wet one’s whistle and be led astray.

Nick Symmonds ()

American 800m champion Nick Symmonds competed in last year's event. It wasn't his first (thirst, surely?)

3. ‘Tis the season to be jolly

The early December slot suits the pros (Nick Symmonds and Katie Mackey lined up last year) while Austin’s winter weather delivers balmy conditions. Just a few weeks out from Christmas, it’s the perfect time of year to let the hair down and sink a few scoops.

“People are getting ready for the holidays and are a little joyful,” Floreani says.

4. Mine’s a relay

A new innovation for this year's schedule is the introduction of a 4x400m corporate race. For those who don't fancy tackling the full beer mile, the relay distance could be just the tipple.

“Some people don’t want to do the full beer mile, so the opportunity is there for people to just run by a lap,” explains Floreani.

Other races on the schedule include a pair of sub-elite races, a series of open races and a celebrity race.

Beth Herndon won the 2014 elite women's race in a world record 6:17.76

5. Witness greatness

Just like last year, the event will be live streamed like any other proper track meet. “From the graphics, the lap splits and even the chug zone splits, our production [last year] was top notch,” says Floriani. He promises that the 2015 edition will be even better.

Leading the men's elite field is last year's fifth-placer (and now officially 'beer mile pro') Lewis Kent. The Canadian last month clocked a 4:51 beer mile, which if ratified will be a world record. Defending champion and Winnipeg-based postman Corey Gallagher will be one of the main challengers along with 2014 runner-up and US hope Michael Cunningham. Jim Finlayson, who was third in last year's event, is not to be dismissed either and will complete the trio of Canadian elite runners. 

Last year's women's race saw winner Beth Herndon set a world record 6:17.76. Among the lead contenders in the women's elite race this time round are Austin locals Andrea Fisher, a former NCCA swimmer and 2014 runner-up, and former world record holder and mum-of-six Chris Kimbrough.

Given the quality on offer, don't rule out more records falling this time round.

6. Lager legacy

The Beer Mile World Championships are just one of a series of other beer mile events to have popped up around the world in recent years. What was once seen as (and to be fair, largely still is) a mildly eccentric student activity is now, according to Floreani, “becoming more competitive”.

The future of the Beer Mile World Championships, he says, “will become bigger and bigger”. We’ll drink to that, although the good ol' regular mile will always take precedence in our hearts.

The FloTrack Beer Mile World Championships will be streamed live on flotrack.org – the elite races are scheduled to begin at 9:10pm CT on December 1.