Don Bowden

Birthday: 08/08/36 Mile PR: 3:58.70 - 1957
Metric Mile (1500m) PR: 3:46.50 - 1957
High School: Abraham Lincoln HS '54
Hometown: San Jose, CA
College: University of California Berkeley '58
Current Residence: Saratoga, CA

Don Bowden, a 1956 Olympian at 1500 meters, was the first American to break the 4-minute barrier in the Mile, and at age 20, the youngest to-date to run under the coveted 4 minute benchmark of excellence. Bowden, known more as an 800 meter specialist, became the U.S. Mile record holder when he clocked 3:58.7, on a clay track, in Stockton, California on June 1, 1957, his only sub-4 minute Mile of his career, the 12th man overall sub-4 and the third fastest Mile ever run at the time!

In high school, he was a two-time California 880yd state champion (1953-54) and also held the 880 yard national record (1:52.3), and at Cal-Berkeley, the Golden Bear was the 1957 NCAA 800m champion (1:47.2, NCAA record) and was a member of the world record setting 4 × 880yd team in 1958.

FUN FACT: Bowden’s renowned coach Brutus Hamilton at Cal-Berkeley was also the coach of fellow Mile legend and Olympian Glenn Cunningham at Kansas University in the 1930s.

FUN FACT II: His nickname was "The Stork".

FUN FACT III: After college, Bowden helped develop and promote the Tartan track, the first artificial running surface.


Bowden to Enter Pac-12 Hall of Honor

March 09, 2020

Cal track star & 1956 Olympian was first American to run sub-4 minute Mile

By Cal Athletics

SAN FRANCISCO – Former Cal track great and first American to run a sub-4 minute Mile, Don Bowden will be inducted into the Pac-12 Hall of Honor at the Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas on...

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The Don Bowden Interview

April 06, 2017

I admire what Ryan Lamppa and ‘Bring Back the Mile’ are doing... We should definitely bring back the Mile and there is some impetus which would surely help track & field in this country.

By Gary Cohen,

Don Bowden is the first American to run a sub-4 minute Mile which he...

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Don Bowden Opened Gateway for American Milers

June 01, 2012

By Mark Winitz

Longtime track & field writer Mark Winitz interviewed Don Bowden in 2004 for an article that appeared in American Track & Field magazine. On the 55th anniversary of Bowden’s first sub-4 minute Mile by an American, Bring Back the Mile asked Mark to contact Don for his thoughts...

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Bowden passed test with first U.S. sub-4:00 Mile

September 06, 2005

My coach, the legendary Brutus Hamilton, said, "Let's give it a try and see if you can do it."

By Paula Parrish, Special to The Record

His face, when he crossed the finish line 48 years ago, could have come straight out of "Happy Days." Even when he was straining on his last steps to become...

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Four Minutes of Fame

August 11, 1997

Remembering Don Bowden's U.S. milestone

By Brad Herzog, Sports Illustrated

When Roger Bannister first ran the Mile in less than 4 minutes, on May 6, 1954, he was hailed the next morning by The New York Times as having achieved "one of man's hitherto unattainable goals." The 4 minute barrier...

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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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