Mile News

Ryun’s Historic High School Mile Celebrated in San Diego

June 03, 2014

“The Mile will always have a special place in people’s hearts. It transcends track & field, because it’s a very relatable distance.” - Alan Webb

By Richard A. Lovett for Running Times

Fifty years ago on June 5, a scrawny 17-year-old finished last in a historic Mile race in Compton, California. But it wasn’t just any Mile race. For the first time in history, an entire eight-runner field broke the coveted 4-minute barrier. And for the first time in history, a high school student was among them, finishing in 3:59.0.

That high school Miler was Jim Ryun, who would go on to better his high school record by 3.7 seconds—and his 3:55.3 was a mark that would stand for 36 years.

To commemorate the event, the city of San Diego, with help from Ryun and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, will put on a free Festival of Miles on June 5 at historic Balboa Stadium. Races will range from third grade to elite, including top competitors seeking to use fast Miles as 1500 meter qualifiers for the 2014 USA outdoor nationals. (An elite man would need to run a 3:56.5 to qualify for nationals June 26–29.)

“We’re [even] going to have a media Mile made up of local celebrities,” says Paul Greer, the meet’s director. “At 3:59 a horn will go off and they’ll stop, wherever they are. It will give the crowd a good view of what that [3:59] meant—especially if a media person only goes a lap and a half.”

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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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