Glenn Cunningham

Birthday: 08/04/09 Mile PR: 4:06.8 - 1934 (former world record)
Metric Mile (1500m) PR: 3:48.0 - 1940
High School: Elkhart HS '30
Hometown: Elkhart, KS
College: University of Kansas '34

Glenn Cunningham is a two-time Olympian at 1500 meters, finishing 4th in Los Angeles 1932 and winning the silver medal in Berlin 1936 with a time of 3:48.4. In 1934, Cunningham, a childhood severe burn victim, set the world record for the Mile in 4:06.8, which stood for three years. The 1933 Sullivan Award winner also set the indoor 1500m and Mile world record, three and two times respectively, and ran a 4:04.4 Mile indoors in 1938 on an oversized track.

In addition, Cunningham won the prestigious indoor Wanamaker Mile six times and was selected the best athlete in the 100-year history of Madison Square Garden.

While at the University of Kansas, Cunningham, known as the "Iron Horse of Kansas", won the NCAA 1500m and Mile titles in 1932 and '33 and earned a total of nine AAU 1500m titles as well as the 1936 Olympic Trials 1500m crown. The Mile Legend passed away on March 10, 1988.

Did you know? Cunningham is only one of five to hold the Mile world record indoors and outdoors and he also earned three college degrees: B.S. (Kansas '34), M.A. (Iowa '36) and Ph.D. (NYU '38).

FUN FACT: Glenn and his wife Ruth created and ran the Glenn Cunningham Youth Ranch that helped upwards of 9,000 troubled and underprivileged youth over a 30-year period from the late 1940s to the 1970s.


Bonthron Beat WR Holder Cunningham in 1934 NCAA Mile

February 11, 2021

In clash of U.S. Mile greats, Princeton athlete also set NCAA Outdoor Championships meet record


Revenge was fresh on Bill Bonthron’s mind as Princeton made its first trip to the 1934 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Just a week...

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One State, Three Mile Legends: Cunningham, Santee, Ryun

November 05, 2015

Record setting, Olympic trio hail from Kansas, the Sunflower State

By Bring Back the Mile

Kansas is known for its expansive wheat fields, but it has also amazingly grown three of the greatest Milers in history: Glenn Cunningham, Wes Santee and Jim Ryun. Consider below the impressive...

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A Record That Wasn’t

November 01, 2014

Cunningham had run the race of his life and knocked two full seconds off the outdoor Mile world record and four seconds off his own indoor record!

By Peter Webster '71, Dartmouth Alumni Magazine

In the 1930s, when American sports fans desperately needed something to cheer about, Glenn...

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Glenn Cunningham overcame burn injuries to set Mile records

January 19, 2014

Kansas track star, 1936 Olympic 1500m silver medalist won Wanamaker Mile six times

By Beccy Tanner, The Wichita Eagle

The anniversary of one of the most famous fires in Kansas is approaching.

On the morning of Feb. 9, 1917, Glenn Cunningham, his brother, Floyd, and two other siblings walked...

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Going Head to Head: Who is the Greatest Miler in History?

September 20, 2012

By Barbara Huebner, NYRR News

Some of the greatest Milers in the world have won the Fifth Avenue Mile presented by Nissan, which will be run for the 32nd time on Saturday. Sydney Maree, Steve Scott, Mary Slaney, John Walker, Peter Elliott and Bernard Lagat are among those who have broken the...

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Mile Great Glenn Cunningham 2012 National Distance Running Hall of Fame Inductee

May 23, 2012

11th class also includes steeplechaser Horace Ashenfelter and marathoner Jacqueline Hansen

UTICA, N.Y. – The National Distance Running Hall of Fame announced the eleventh class of inductees to be honored in July in Utica New York. The class of 2012 is comprised of Glenn Cunningham, Horace...

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Competitive Mile Field to Collide at Kansas Relays

April 11, 2012

2010 and 2011 Relays champions Peter van der Westuizen and Will Leer return for another shot at sub-4-minute mile at Memorial Stadium 

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Eight of the nation’s top milers have agreed to race in the prestigious Glenn Cunningham Mile at the 2012 Kansas Relays it was announced by KU...

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Pressure’s on When Dad’s a Legend

May 28, 2010

By Bob Lutz, The Wichita Eagle

If you want to see what you're made of, try walking in the footsteps of greatness. Better yet, try running in them.

Jim Ryun, Glenn Cunningham and Archie San Romani Sr. are three of America's greatest distance runners, all produced right here in Kansas.


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Forgotten Stories of Courage & Inspiration: Glenn Cunningham

June 12, 2009

“It hurt like thunder to walk, but it didn't hurt at all when I ran. So for five or six years, about all I did was run.”

By Leroy Watson Jr., Bleacher Report

It was another bitterly cold morning in Everetts, Kansas, a rural farming town like so many hundreds of communities throughout the...

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