Jim Ryun and the Mile
The Mile captivated people’s imagination once a stop clock was brought to the track and people began dreaming about running a Mile in less than 4 minutes.
By William H. Benson, Syndicated Columnist, from The Dickinson Press
Decades ago, one lap around a high school or college track equaled a quarter of a mile. A race on the straight in front of the stands was the 100-yard dash and a half lap was 220 yards. Those two were the sprints. A single lap was the quarter-mile run and two laps was the half-mile run. Those were the middle distance races. Four laps was the Mile run, and eight laps was the 2-Mile run. Those were the long distance races. Along with the relays, that was “track” for generations of students.
At some time in the recent past, those distances were converted over to the metric system. Oval tracks are now 400 meters long, which converts to 437.445 yards, just short of the former 440 yards. Now runners run meters: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1500, 3000, 5000, 10,000 or more. According to the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), records now are in meters, indoors and outdoors, men and women, with one exception: the Mile.
The Mile run captivated people’s imagination once a stop clock was brought to the track and people began dreaming about running a Mile in less than 4 minutes. Quarter-milers routinely run their race in less than 60 seconds, but for a runner to run a sub-4-minute Mile means that his average for each lap must be less than 60 seconds — no small feat. Theorists believed it impossible, the limit of man’s ability.
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