Bringing Back The Mile
Yesterday at a student career fair in Indianapolis, I ran into Scott Williams, an All-American and Big 10 champion while at Indiana University.
"Scott," I said. "A Columbia kid ran a 3:35 last night!"
After an ever brief pause, Williams responded, "Wow. That's like a 3:52!"
Ever appropriate, this conversation with conversion happened on the 47th anniversary of Jim Ryun becoming the first high schooler to break the four-minute mile.
But you'd think that, well, the mile only means something to Boomers, you know? Folks who were born while John F. Kennedy was alive.
Until I watched an interview with Kyle Merber — who ran the time — on RunnerSpace.com and he had the exact same thought as Williams.
Reliving the moment, Merber said afterward, "I didn't have it in perspective yet until I realized the mile conversion. I guess the American — you know, you always think, 'What's your mile time?' Once I realized, 'Whoa, that's a 3:52.' Then I thought something just happened."
Yes, the mile. It remains an affront to the metric system even in a sport that has fully converted here in the States.
"The mile picks up more media coverage in running than anything but the marathon," said Ryan Lamppa, who has authored a campaign — Bring Back The Mile — to take advantage of the one event that rises above the others.
We had so many mile moments here at The Armory this past season, be it great high school qualifying races for the Millrose Games, or Edward Cheserek chasing the second indoor sub-four in high school history, or Miles Batty's collegiate record or Matthew Centrowitz and his first Wanamaker Mile victory.
"We need more governing bodies to simply allow mile times for qualifying," said Lamppa, a Harvard-educated runner who ran on the same Crimson team with sub-four miler Adam Dixon. "Then the opposition to it would go away."
Of course, there is no opposition at the New Balance Track & Field Center. In fact, when Dr. Norb Sander announced that the steeplechase was going to be an added feature to high school events this coming winter, the distance was a no-brainer.
It had to be a mile.