Running the New York City Marathon and drinking five beers is no easy task!
Running aside, it’s a somewhat difficult but intriguing feat to drink a beer in each of the five different New York City boroughs in one day or night. But by way of taxi, ferry, subway and plenty of walking, it can be a fun way for locals and visitors alike to imbibe and enjoy a wide variety of Big Apple nightlife.
But what about doing it along the New York City Marathon course, which just happens to pass through each of the boroughs on the first Sunday in November? It’s not only possible, but the very unofficial course record is pretty hard to beat if you consider what it takes to run 26.2 miles with at least 60 ounces of beer playing a big role in your hydration strategy.
A group of Seattle-based runners pulled off the feat five times between 2005 and 2010, growing to as many as 20 participants at its peak. They wore custom moisture-wicking race shirts to commemorate the event, accessorized with pink tutus or funny hats and often organized in advance to have friends or bar owners provide them with their cold beverage of choice.
“It’s a lot of fun, but it’s definitely about running and not racing,” says Jesse Williams, who is the co–course record-holder for 5 Boroughs, 5 Beers at 3:26 — just more than an hour slower than his own marathon PR of 2:23. “We ran the entire course each time, but we were out there having fun. We’re out there taking group photos, dancing and really enjoying it.”
Certainly the organizers of the New York City Marathon would frown upon drinking alcohol during the race. But Williams is quick to point out that he and his barstool running mates were officially entered in the race each time and made it a point never to get in the way of other runners on the course.
Tips For 5 Boroughs, 5 Beers
Here are Williams’ pointers on how to run your own 5 Boroughs, 5 Beers at the New York City Marathon, though he admits that actually getting into the race is the hardest part:
Beer 1: Staten Island
Pack your first beer in the drop bag you take with you to Staten Island and pop it open before your starting wave begins. Don’t worry, you won’t be the only one taking a drink. Some of the European runners will be popping champagne or Prosecco at the start. Having one before the start takes the edge off of the huge task at hand.
Beer 2: Brooklyn
Drink your second beer around mile 10 at a bar in Brooklyn. “The first year we did it in 2005, we just ran into a bar to get beers and the owner almost didn’t serve us because he thought we were crazy,” Williams says. “On subsequent runs, he has been a proud sponsor and set up beers on the bar before we get there.”
Beer 3: Queens
After the halfway point, there’s reason to celebrate, right? “We’d usually stop in another bar near mile 14,” Williams says. “This is where the excitement really gets going, because we’re high-fiving everyone as we come out of the bar in our running gear to get back on the course.” Only 12.2 miles and 24 ounces to go!
Beer 4: Manhattan
First Avenue is where the crowds really come out and beer No. 4 is often taken near mile 17 amid the mayhem, thanks to a friend with a backpack full of beers, Williams says. (If you can’t arrange a bag man, there are minimarts on First Avenue.) “Spectators would always give us concerned looks,” he says. “But you’ve got to rehydrate, right?”
Beer 5: The Bronx
Beer No. 5 is a brown-bag situation after a stop in a minimart near mile 21, so make sure you have a few bucks and your ID. “Things get a little goofy over the final 5 miles to the finish in Central Park,” Williams says. “Some people try to run hard, but most are high-fiving and dancing and even free-style rapping with bands along the course.”