Steve Spence’s 43-Year Streak of a Sub-5 Minute Mile Comes to End
“I just ran out of time this year. I still do it because it’s fun. I enjoyed being out there with the people who helped me get out there, even if I was hurting a bit. The camaraderie is why I still do it."
By Andrew Dawson, Runner's World
After 43 consecutive years of running a sub-5-minute Mile, Steve Spence’s streak came to an end as two late attempts fell short of the mark at the end of 2019.
The 1992 Olympic marathoner has made the streak part of his life since 2008, when his daughter Neely discovered that he had run a sub-5-minute Mile every year since 1976 but hadn’t done so yet that year. That summer, at age 46, he took to the track alongside high school runners attending his running camp at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, where he’s the head cross country and track coach, and went for the time.
Since then, the annual tradition has brought alumni from his coaching days and others together to help him achieve the now 57-year-old’s goal.
“I keep doing it because I enjoy the experience,” Spence told Runner’s World. “If it wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t do it, but the people who help me make it fun.”
The streak wasn’t supposed to end this year, but a whirlwind of events led to Spence getting close, but not quite there. He was in shape in January when he planned to knock it out early in the year during a trip to Florida with his family. Despite numerous attempts to secure a track, no school there would let him, so he held off.
Later that month, he hyperextended his knee during a run with his women’s team. The injury required knee surgery to remove bone chips that were causing reoccurring pain and also repair part of the meniscus. The surgery took place in June.
Recovery took time and limited Spence to primarily an elliptical until October when he was cleared to run again. His speed built up quickly, but he said workouts felt tougher than they used to.
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