We All Wore Hats - Bowling Green 1972

May 14, 2012

 Runner-up: My Most Memorable Mile Essay Contest (May 2012)

In 1972 Rick Schnittker was a member of the storied Bowling Green State University (BGSU) distance squad, which included the likes of Dave Wottle, Sid Sink and Jim Ferstle. Rick tells the story of his sub-4 that got away, shared and felt by so many others around the world. The sub-4 is magical, but so are the stories of all those who chased down the dream, but came up seconds short. To learn more about the BGSU squad, we highly recommend Ferstle's The Age of Innocence: The 1972 Olympics, Dave Wottle and the Bowling Green Track Team (Running Times, December 2008).

I believe my Mile story will touch many Milers who were in the hunt but never bested the coveted 4 minute mark. It is a dream Mile that played out almost nightly during my days of competition and still haunts my dreams 40 some years later.   

The gun goes off and all the runners settle in at a comfortable stride. There are two sub-4 minute Milers in the race and they assume the lead. At the quarter mark, you hear 59 ... 60 ... 61, feeling good and now relaxed with the pace, the second lap goes by without incident. You're in the pack and confidence grows. You hear out in front as you approach the half, 1.58 ... 59 ... 2.

In the third lap, you're running on clouds, not sucking for air, the legs are still light,  and the group is starting to pack up. As you round the turn and approach the 3/4 mark, you know you have a chance. 3 ... 3 oh one ...3 oh two. As the bell is ringing, you do the math, 57 seconds. You've finished with that before, reach down and do it.

This dream should have come true for me my senior year at BGSU, but it didn't. The 4 minute mark remains a barrier to those who have not done it. Bring back the Mile and you bring back the dream. It's OK, while many will fail, many more will try and more will succeed.

I submit this in honor of these All-Americans from BGSU: Sid Sink, Steve Danforth, Bruce Vermillea and Craig McDonald, may this dream haunt you guys too!  With nothing but respect, Rick Schnittker, 4:04.6.

BBTM Note: Rick mentioned that his High School record of 4:16.4 has disappeared from the schools' records books with the advent of the 1600 and thanks to his efforts, it was restored in 2014! Together we can bring back the Mile, the stories and records of this great American distance. Sign your state's petition today!

Right to left bottom: Rick Schnittker, Craig MacDonald, Steve Danforth, Dave Wottle, Tracy Elliot, Bob McComber and Jim Ferstle. Bruce Vermillea pictured third from last in the top row with glasses. Photo courtesy Rick Schnittker

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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.

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