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Ontario man chugs his way to victory in San Francisco ‘Beer Mile’ competition

TORONTO — An Ontario athlete is heading home a champion, of sorts, after winning first place in a running competition in San Francisco that involves chugging a pint of beer before every quarter mile.

The Beer Mile World Classic is an annual social event that starts with participants drinking four full-sized pints of beer while running four quarter miles (1.609 km).

Lewis Kent, a student at Western University in London, Ont., took home first place in the race with a time of 5:09 on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay on Saturday.

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He said he got into the competition by participating in similar events with teammates from his university track team as a way of unwinding at the end of the season.

“We just kind of do one for fun and it mixes things up because usually the best athletes aren’t the best ones in the Beer Mile so it gives everyone a chance to win,” he said.

Kent said he ran a Beer Mile with a time of 5:14 and the organizers of the international event contacted him in April and offered to fly him down to the race if he participated.

WATCH: ESPN’s ‘The Beer Mile Buzz’

“It was pretty awesome to be honest, while we were they down there we were kind of treated like mini celebrities, everyone that was there at the event knew who we were,” he said.

“It was amazing it was such a cool atmosphere there was over 1,000 people there at the race.”

This year was the first time the race has been open to the public, as organizers said they have been producing underground Beer Miles in San Francisco for over a decade.

The race was open to men and women and saw Kent, who holds the current Beer Mile world record time of 4:55.09, charge ahead after two of his toughest competitors were penalized for breaking the rules.

American James Nielsen and Australian Josh Harris, both former record holders, weren’t among the top finishers due to the fact that Harris was penalized for vomiting and Nielsen was disqualified for not finishing his beer, Runner’s World reported after the race.

“Going into the race I kind of knew there were easily four or five guys that could have won it,” Kent said.

“So I was kind of shocked at how the race played out in the end.”

Kent brought a local beer to the competition, Amsterdam Blonde, which may have helped him take the lead over American competitors who largely opted for Budweiser instead.

“It’s just something I’d used before and I’d tried a bunch of different types and that’s the one that worked best, so me and the rest of the Canadians flew down with it because we knew it worked well,” he said, adding that Budweiser was not his favourite beer for competition.

“I tried using that in Texas at the world championships and  it didn’t go well for me so I decided this time I would fly down with my own beer.”