Going the distance
Bring Back the Mile national campaign seeks to elevate and celebrate the iconic distance
By Caroline Dohack, Columbia Daily Tribune
If Romeo and Juliet had been running partners instead of star-crossed lovers, our girl might have said to her beau, "What's in a name? That which we call a Mile runs just the same as 1600 meters."
That might be so, but Ryan Lamppa, founder of the Bring Back the Mile campaign, would rather see more race organizers do away with the 1600 — "It's a misfit distance," he declares — and embrace the Mile.
I admit that when this campaign first blipped onto my radar, I thought it was a lot of excitement over nothing. There are so many other things to obsess over when it comes to running that terminology doesn't seem like it should be high on the list. But, Lamppa makes a compelling case for what he refers to as America's distance.
After all, he said, most Americans are at best only loosely acquainted with the metric system, despite past efforts to convert. For runners, this is an especially interesting issue, as many still think in miles even as they train for an event measured in meters or kilometers.
"You will never hear someone ask, 'What is your 1600 meter pace?' " Lamppa said.
And so the Bring Back the Mile campaign's immediate goal, which is to replace the 1600 with the Mile at high school track meets, makes sense. If more people understand the distance being run, Lamppa said, there might be a boost in track-meet attendance, which currently isn't so great.
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