Mile News

What makes the Mile so special?

May 07, 2024

"I wanted to be part of its history, to break the world record. If you want to be one of the great runners, you must be part of this Mile history."

By Chris Turner for World Athletics Heritage

The Mile distance has captured the sporting imagination. Miracle Mile, Mile of the Century, Dream Mile, Golden Mile, sub-4… this imperial distance has transcended cultures and has cast a spell of magic which only the marathon can challenge.

But why the Mile, especially when it has never been an Olympic or World Championship event on the track?

On Thursday, November 21, 2019, the World Athletics Heritage Mile Night was staged in Monaco. Eleven world record breakers in the Mile (outdoors and indoors) attended: Ron Delany, Michel Jazy, Jim Ryun, Filbert Bayi, Paola Pigni-Cacchi, John Walker, Eamonn Coghlan, Sebastian Coe, Steve Cram, Noureddine Morceli, and Hicham El Guerrouj.

These magic Milers, two of whom – Jazy and Cacchi – have since sadly passed away, were joined by 1968 and 1984 Olympic 1500m champions Kipchoge Keino and Gabriella Dorio, and 1987 World 1500m champion Abdi Bile, all world class Milers.

Mile legends in their own words answer the question: Why the Mile?

Ron Delany (IRL) – 1956 Olympic 1500m champion; multiple indoor Mile world records:
“The fellowship and comradeship of the Mile. All of us Milers over the generations have enjoyed the benefits of the mileage (fame) which we have got out of running the Mile.”

Jim Ryun (USA) – 1500m and three Mile world records:
“The Mile has given us all the opportunity to live our dream. Never did it occur to me as a young man that my future would be running or that it would be the Mile.”

Michel Jazy (FRA) – Mile world record:
“All Milers are part of a historic brotherhood. That’s what makes the Mile so special.”

Kip Keino (KEN) – 1968 Olympic 1500m champion:
“I wanted to be a good Miler. My inspiration was Roger Bannister. I started with the 800m and tried the steeplechase, 5000m and 10,000m, but for me the 1500m and Mile were special.”

Paolo Cacchi (ITA) – world 1500m and Mile records:
“The Mile is like the marathon, a mystery in athletics. It is something which takes you in your heart and when you run a Mile you think you are something different. The Mile is the past, the present and the future. The athletics Mile is for every time.”

John Walker (NZL) – 1976 Olympic 1500m champion; Mile world record; first man of only three with more than 100 sub-4 minute Mile performances:
“The Mile is the biggest event in running. It is revered in New Zealand as we have had Lovelock, Snell and myself. So when I ran the world record the first below 3:50, it made huge headlines.”

Filbert Bayi (TAN) – world 1500m and Mile records:
“I was a national hero when I returned home (after breaking the Mile world record). There was a red carpet at the airport which is usually only reserved for the president of the country but on that day it was rolled out for me.”

Continue reading at:

Tags: steve cram (26) , sebastian coe (50) , ron delany (11) , noureddine morceli (7) , michel jazy (6) , legend (90) , kip keino (8) , john walker (33) , jim ryun (93) , hicham el guerrouj (16) , filbert bayi (11) , eamonn coghlan (30)

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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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