James Nielsen won the 2007 Eugene (OR) Marathon and ran in the 2008 U.S. Olympic trials. He's a two-time NCAA champion at 5,000 meters. But those achievements pale in comparison to what he accomplished on April 27.
Nielsen, like Roger Bannister before him, shattered a barrier heretofore thought beyond man's physical capabilities. He overcame pain, a disbelieving public, and carbonation.
James Nielsen ran the first sub-5:00 Beer Mile.
An officially-sanctioned Beer Mile requires a runner to drink a full 12-ounce can of beer, run 400 meters, drink another full 12-ounce can of beer, run another 400 meters, and so on, until the mile is complete. Nielsen, motivated by U.S. Olympian Nick Symmonds' public interest in trying to be the first to break the 5:00 barrier, completed his mile in 4:57.
It's courage like Nielsen's that lift us all, that inspires us to follow our better angels, to continue to train so that, like him, we might conquer our own Beer Miles. Or, whatever the distance from our couches to our refrigerators may be.