Mile News

50th Anniversary of Jim Ryun’s Epic Sub-4 at Kansas State Meet

May 15, 2015

First sub-4 Mile at high school-only competition and State meet and still the only sub-4 at a State meet.

By Bring Back the Mile

On May 15, 1965, Jim Ryun, who a year earlier had already broken 4 minutes in the Mile as a junior for Wichita East High in Wichita, Kansas, the first prep athlete to achieve the magic mark, walked onto the cinder track at the Kansas State Meet to attempt a solo sub-4 minute Mile. His athletic talent, already known the world over, was nonetheless stepping onto untested ground. Ryun's first sub-4 came at an Open race almost a year earlier on June 5, 1964 in Compton, California, a season in which he also qualified for the 1964 Toyko Olympic Games in the 1500 meters. This would be different: a high school-only race where his main competition would be the clock.

What ensued remains one of the greatest individual High School track & field accomplishments ever. Ryun's one-for-the-ages 3:58.3 clocking on that May afternoon in Wichita was the first sub-4 at a high school-only competition and remains the fastest to this day and it is also the only sub-4 minute Mile or 1600 at a State meet to-date. His 440 yard splits were: 58.3, 2:00.8 (62.5), 3:02.6 (61.8) and 3:58.3 (55.7).

Overall, the teen phenom ran five sub-4 minute Mile races as a HS boy, the most ever, and to-date, only 6 U.S. high school boys, including recently Matthew Maton, have broken 4 minutes for the Mile since Ryun in 1964. NOTE: since this article was written, in 2022, Gary Martin (PA) recorded a 3:57.98 at a HS-only meet and the U.S. high school sub-4 count stands at 21 boys.

His epic performance also produced an incredible moment capturing photo for the ages (above).

Unfortunately and disappointingly, the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) does not celebrate this historic mark in its record books. With some of America's greatest Milers of all-time born and raised in Kansas such as Glenn Cunningham, Wes Santee and Ryun, there isn't a better state than the Sunflower State to Bring Back the Mile to honor them and Ryun's extraordinary high school Mile performance. 

May 15, 1965, Wichita, KS
Jim Ryun, mainly solo, breaks 4 minutes (3:58.3) for the Mile at Kansas State Meet – first sub-4 at high school-only competition and State meet (1965); still the only sub-4 at a State meet. #GOAT

Tags: legend (90) , jim ryun (93) , high school record (22) , bbtm news (207)

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Return the Mile to prominence on the American & worldwide sports and cultural landscape by elevating and celebrating the Mile to create a movement.

Bring Back the Mile as the premier event in the sport, and increase interest in and media coverage of the Mile for both those who love the distance as well as the general public.

Bring Back the Mile to celebrate the storied distance and to recognize the people who made and make the Mile great and to promote Mile events and the next generation of U.S. Milers.

Bring Back the Mile to create a national movement for the Mile as America’s Distance,
to inspire Americans to run the Mile as part of their fitness program and to replace the 1600 meters at High School State Track & Field Meets across the country.

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