Mile News

Why do Olympic runners race in the 1500 meters instead of the Mile?

August 16, 2016

"The Mile is easy to explain to non-track people... Everyone understands a fast Mile."

By Oliver Staley,

Today (August 16) in Rio, some of the world’s most talented runners will contest the 1500 meters.

That’s too bad. They should be running the Mile instead.

The 1500 meters has been part of the Olympic program since 1896, reflecting the French origins of the modern Olympic movement and its founder, Pierre de Coubertin. It’s also the distance used at the World Championships and at the NCAAs. But the Mile, just 109 meters longer, is a far superior experience for athletes and spectators.

While the 1500 meters takes three-and-three-quarter laps of a standard 400 meter track, the Mile is run in just a shade more than four laps. The symmetry of the four laps makes the Mile easy to follow, and is particularly useful when watching elite runners capable of challenging the coveted and understood sub-4 minute Mile. Cheering athletes against the clock, knowing each lap has to be run in under a minute, is one of the great spectacles in track, a sport that has far too few of them.

Thanks to Roger Bannister, who famously broke the 4 minute Mile in 1954, the Mile has transcended sport and moved into metaphor.

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Tags: steve scott (41) , ryan lamppa (110) , olympics (67) , 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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