Mile legend Scott taking a new path in life
Retired CSU-San Marcos coach has moved with wife JoAnn to Pacific Grove, near Monterey, where he continues to run and enjoys the cooler conditions while he ponders his future.
By Nick Canepa for the San Diego Union-Tribune
It was a February night in 1977, when we really, honestly cared about track & field.
Jack in the Box Indoor Games. Sports Arena. Sold out and crazy. Positively electric. As usual.
The premier event: the Mile, featuring New Zealand’s John Walker, the newly crowned world outdoor record holder and 1976 Olympic 1500 meter gold medalist, and Ireland’s Eamonn Coghlan, king of the indoor boards, who in due time would rewrite all Mile records established under roofs.
Anticipation always was high, because the arena — for reasons no one figured out —had the world’s fastest 11-lap-to-the-Mile track, and it wasn’t close. Magic ran through its grains.
The public address announcer introduced the runners and got around to: “From Cal State Irvine, Scott Steve.”
His real name was Steve Scott, who — granted, at the time —wasn’t exactly an international running celebrity. However, the university that the sophomore actually was representing — University of California at Irvine — was fairly well known.
Which made it all the more comical when Scott ran the race of his life, finishing second to Kenya’s Wilson Waigwa (1984 Olympian in the 5000 meters) in 3:56, three seconds faster than he’d covered the distance in his life (doing an indoor Mile under 4 minutes was no small deal then).
“Calling it Cal State Irvine was an insult, and then the name,” recalls Scott, laughing. “Walker and Coghlan basically were looking at each other during the race and Waigwa and I finished ahead of them. It put me on the racing map.”
A map that covered a lot of miles.
It easily can be said that Steve Scott is America’s greatest Miler. His 3:47.69, run in Oslo in 1982, was the U.S. outdoor Mile record for nearly 27 years (holding it for a record time period). The three-time U.S. Olympic team member also clocked an incredible 137 sub-4 minute miles, the most in the history of the recorded world.
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