Some of you are no doubt runners, capable of overcoming man’s natural laziness and hauling your butts to the gym. Some of you may even have the strong legs and iron stomach necessary to partake in the traditional beer mile, that pinnacle of athleticism and speed drinking in which you race around a track and chug a 12-ounce beer at the start and at every quarter-mile after. But if you’re a runner doing a beer mile while also being an octogenarian, then your name is Elvira Montes.
Montes, 82, is one of just eight verified contenders in the 69-and-older category, and this year she plans to finish faster than ever. She will compete in her third beer mile in three years this Friday. She’s the oldest person to finish the FloTrack Beer Mile World Championships in Austin, Texas, and currently has a record of 20:24.
So how does she do it? Exercise, for one thing; Montes has competed in the Boston Athletic Association 5K run five times since she turned 60. Then there’s the hard work; Montes trained for this year’s beer mile by drinking Coors Light on the treadmill, and a couple Scotches a week.
“I go to my doctors and they say, ‘Nothing is wrong with you, you’re O.K.,’” Montes tells VinePair over the phone. “‘When is your next run?’ That’s what they say instead of saying you’re sick or you need medication. I don’t need medication. My medication is Scotch.”
Yep: Scotch. Chivas to be exact. In fact, Montes says, if it was a Scotch mile instead of a beer mile, she would finish much faster. She doesn’t even really like beer, and she only started running about 20 years ago. But that never stopped her from competing.
Montes’s path to becoming a local beer-mile legend started three years ago with encouragement from her daughter, Renee. Renee wanted her mother to travel from her home in El Paso to Austin, where the FloTrack race is held, so they could race in the beer mile together. What Renee, a marathon runner, didn’t know, was that her mom would be better at the beer mile than she was.
“I said, ‘Well, I’ll try. I don’t know if I’ll finish, but I’ll try,’” Montes recalls. “And I did finish and I did good. And then the second time [Renee] said, ‘Come on, Mom, you’ll be all over the world if you win again.’ So I tried it again and I won again.”
Her success has given her a fair amount of media attention, but she isn’t completely comfortable talking to the press. The race for her has always been more of a family affair. After last year’s race, she went back to the El Paso Hooters, where around 50 people, mostly family, held a party for her. She had wings and Scotch, naturally.
Montes doesn’t know how many more races she’ll compete in, and she’s been focusing on the race ahead where she’ll be drinking Oskar Blues. Regardless of her outcome in this race or any future races, she’s made her point.
“I’m just proving that I can still do it,” Montes says. “I can still run and chug beer at the same time.”