Mile News

The Mile Has No Problem Surviving in a Metric Age

July 19, 1981

A record-breaking performance... would solidify the Mile's stature as one of sport's most exciting spectacles... Who would have got excited about the 4 minute 1600 anyway?

By Craig Masback, The New York Times

Steve Ovett stood with hands on hips in silent contemplation of the men's 200 meters. As Dwayne Evans of the United States swept around the turn on his way to victory, Ovett smiled, perhaps feeling that he would finish his Mile race later in the evening in a similar fashion.

Two hours later, Ovett had won, but he had failed in his effort to break his world record of 3 minutes, 48.8 seconds. Now he smiled again as he answered questions concerning the fast early pace. No, running the first half-mile in 1:51 was not the best way to try to break the record, he agreed. Yet, it was the smile that told the most. Ovett had come to Lausanne, Switzerland, not merely to take a shot at the world mark but to run 3:45, a time he would have achieved had he finished with his usual burst of speed. Instead, he had run ''only'' 3:49.66.

Now that spring has sprinted into summer, the fancy of some young men has turned to Miling. And, just when it seemed that metrification would deal a death blow to races at traditional ''English'' distances, a summer season of exciting Mile races has emerged over the last three weeks. Running in major European capitals where the Mile is about as familiar to the public as the dekameter is in the United States, Milers have finally earned the descriptives so routinely linked to their event - that is, the ''miracles,'' the ''magic'' and the ''dreams'' finally seem real.

In the last three weeks, no fewer than four attempts have been made on the Mile record. Although the record has remained intact, the results of the races have required a total readjustment in traditional thinking about what constitutes a good Mile time and have led to renewed interest in the Mile by Europeans. The 4 minute Mile no longer rates as even mildly respectable. And to be among the best, you must break 3:50.

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Tags: steve scott (41) , steve ovett (24) , sebastian coe (50) , dream mile (39) , craig masback (4) , 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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