Mile News


Memorial Stadium’s Finest Mile

April 26, 2013

"Ryun was so dominant, everyone in the stadium was on their feet," remembers Larry Knuth, a longtime Los Angeles track & field coach who was there that night. "People were going nuts."

By Cathrine Merlo, The Bakersfield Californian

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Those who were there still remember the buzz that whipped through the crowd that night at Bakersfield College's Memorial Stadium.

It was June 23, 1967. The world's sporting spotlight had zeroed in on 20-year-old Jim Ryun, the University of Kansas runner who had been setting Mile records -- and breaking the 4 minute mark -- since high school. Already, Ryun had competed in the 1964 Olympics and had been on the cover of Sports Illustrated four times. The magazine had even named Ryun its Sportsman of the Year in 1966.

And now he was here in the national Amateur Athletic Union Track & Field Championships, looking to set a new world record on Memorial Stadium's dirt track.

Broadcaster Jim McKay, announcing for ABC's Wide World of Sports, was there. So were members of the news media from around the world, including Sports Illustrated and the Associated Press. Reporting for The Bakersfield Californian was sportswriter Phil Klusman. All were aware that, with the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City just a year away, every track & field contender would be pushing for a world class performance.

A crowd of 11,600 fans filled the stands of the 12-year-old stadium. They were not only eager to see if the lean, dark-haired Ryun could break his own 3:51.3 Mile world record, set a year earlier. They had also come to watch the meet's other top-ranked athletes, including future Ryun rival and Olympic competitor Marty Liquori, a New Jersey high school senior looking to break the 4 minute Mile barrier, and the University of Southern California's Paul Wilson, who would set a new world pole vault record of 17'8" that night.

Continue reading at: bakersfieldcalifornia.com

Tags: marty liquori (26) , jim ryun (93)

Facebook Comments

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

ELEVATE
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.

CELEBRATE
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.

NATIONAL MOVEMENT
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.

Become a Mile Maniac member or a BBTM sponsor today! Join us, and go Mile!

Join Us

Thanks for joining the movement and being a Mile Maniac. We'll keep you up to-date with our Mile wires as well as exclusive contests and opportunities. Help us spread the word by sharing our site and joining us on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram!