Andrew Lloyd finally delivered on 12 years of unfulfilled Beer Mile promise, romping into the record books in Tauranga tonight.
The 27-year-old not only captured his first New Zealand Beer Mile title but he did it with a withering 5min 45sec time.
It’s the first occasion Tauranga Domain has seen a sub-6min effort and elevated Lloyd into the upper echelon of Beer Mile performances in this country – in fact, it may well have elevated him to the top (Beer Mile NZ records).
Pushed all the way by Jesse Tuke’s equally impressive 5.48 effort, smooth-sculling Lloyd left multisport guru Sam Clarke third in 6.04, while defending champion Craig Kirkwood could only manage a 6.50 for fifth, just behind Bevan Jefferies.
“I did my first Beer Mile at 16 and got third here last year with a 6.41 so this was definitely one out of the bag today,” a stunned Lloyd explained. “It’s almost a minute quicker than my PB, so WADA might be on the way. I had three good sculls but the last one was a bit sticky – the only thing I can offer is this was the first year on the Budweisers, instead of VB, so that might have made all the difference.”
Lloyd’s three previous efforts have been undistinguished – his NZ Champs debut in 2011 saw him finish with a 9.29 – “held high hopes for Andrew… but he didn’t really deliver,” was the official report. An 8.23 followed the next year, before a six-year hiatus ended last year – though his third placing wasn’t much chop either. “Talked a good game, was found wanting….again” was the verdict.
So where did today’s dramatic improvement come from?
Technical officials spent several hours examining video footage for discrepancies, without finding any. Lloyd’s choice of Bud bottles prevented any chance of the old “pin-hole in the can to torpedo it faster’ trick, while drug testing only came back with only a small amount of urine in his alcohol stream.
Not everyone was convinced, however.
“Cheating fuck,” Kirkwood muttered, as he handed over the fabled golden suit to Lloyd in a grudge-filled victory ceremony, though the defending champion was unable to shed any more light on his allegations during later questioning by awaiting media.
“I just want my title back!” he wailed. “First they took the Bureta Trust from me, now this!”
The women’s division was far less controversial, meanwhile – mainly because only one female turned up to race.
But what a performance it turned out to be – Rebecca Thurston, dressed as a bride, was 13th overall with a sharp 10.28, though her first-beer effort had her bolting out of the gates in fourth.
Organisers had hoped to entice last year’s crowd favourite Viv Conway back this year, although it’s understood contractual arrangements and appearance fee demands led to a breakdown in negotiations.
See all the photos from the 2019 NZ Beer Mile here.