Mile News

A Campaign to Bring Back ‘America’s Distance’: The 1-Mile Race

June 06, 2014

"When they went to meters, I think you lost a good portion of the public, because the public has a difficult time understanding just how far is 1600 meters." - Jim Ryun

By Tom Goldman, NPR's All Things Considered

Fifty years ago this week, teenager Jim Ryun of Wichita, Kan., ran a Mile in under 4 minutes, the first high school boy to break the mythical barrier. But in the last few decades, the Mile as a racing distance has fallen out of favor.

Ryan Lamppa is trying to bring it back.

As part of his job as media director for Running USA, a national nonprofit for the running industry, Lamppa was digging around for articles about track & field and running a few years ago when he kept seeing stories about two distances: the marathon and, to his surprise, the Mile.

Lamppa's search proved that the Mile is a big part of our sporting culture, and it sparked an idea to create a campaign to bring back the 1-Mile race. The seed for his effort was actually planted long before, when, in the fourth grade, Lamppa read The Jim Ryun Story.

"That book blew me away, in the sense that here was this teenage boy from Kansas, who was training like a madman, who was setting U.S. and world records in the Mile. It was hard to fathom, but it was also very inspiring," he says.

Today, Lamppa's hero has joined up as a fellow pitch man for the campaign, called "Bring Back the Mile." Ryun, in San Diego this week at events commemorating his high school sub-4 minute Mile, says the Mile race began to fade in the late 1970s during this country's efforts at metric conversion.

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Tags: ryan lamppa (110) , jim ryun (93) , bbtm news (207)

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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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