Ryun’s Historic High School Mile Celebrated in San Diego
“The Mile will always have a special place in people’s hearts. It transcends track & field, because it’s a very relatable distance.” - Alan Webb
By Richard A. Lovett for Running Times
Fifty years ago on June 5, a scrawny 17-year-old finished last in a historic Mile race in Compton, California. But it wasn’t just any Mile race. For the first time in history, an entire eight-runner field broke the coveted 4-minute barrier. And for the first time in history, a high school student was among them, finishing in 3:59.0.
That high school Miler was Jim Ryun, who would go on to better his high school record by 3.7 seconds—and his 3:55.3 was a mark that would stand for 36 years.
To commemorate the event, the city of San Diego, with help from Ryun and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, will put on a free Festival of Miles on June 5 at historic Balboa Stadium. Races will range from third grade to elite, including top competitors seeking to use fast Miles as 1500 meter qualifiers for the 2014 USA outdoor nationals. (An elite man would need to run a 3:56.5 to qualify for nationals June 26–29.)
“We’re [even] going to have a media Mile made up of local celebrities,” says Paul Greer, the meet’s director. “At 3:59 a horn will go off and they’ll stop, wherever they are. It will give the crowd a good view of what that [3:59] meant—especially if a media person only goes a lap and a half.”
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