Mile News

Bill Dotson went from farm boy to running royalty

September 02, 2018

First Kansan to record a sub-4 minute Mile looks back on his running achievements: "I thought: well, if I can stay up with them I just might do it."

By Russell Gagnon, Blade Staff Writer

In the early 1960s, a farm boy from North Central Kansas was one of the fastest men in the world.

Born and raised near Jamestown, Bill Dotson attended Concordia High School. In 1958, when he was a senior, he broke the state record for the Mile that was set by the great Glenn Cunningham, a 1936 Olympic silver medalist and world record holder in the Mile, indoors & outdoors. The record had stood for 28 years.

Four years later, on June 23, 1962, Dotson reached a track & field milestone once thought impossible. He became only the seventh American - and the first Kansan - to run a Mile in under 4 minutes, clocking 3:59.0.

Less than a year later, at an event in Chicago, he made history again, becoming only the fourth person in the world to run a Mile under 4 minutes on an indoor track.

In his collegiate career Dotson won five Big Eight Conference track titles (three indoor; two outdoor); the Big Eight Conference title in cross country; and set three American records in the Mile.

Dotson's achievements and greatness mirrored - and sometimes surpassed - those of other, more well-known middle-distance runners and Milers of his era, including Kansas icons Cunningham, Wes Santee, Jim Ryun and Archie Romani.

Yet, it was not until 2016 that Dotson was finally inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Bill Dotson is 77 years old now, but trim and fit and looks like he could still run a Mile under 4 minutes if he really pushed himself. He lives in Santa Monica, California, where the seasonal weather allows him plenty of outdoor exercise.

"My knees are still pretty good, so I walk and jog about three miles a day," he said.

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