Bring Back The Mile (BBTM) is a movement with a mission to re-instate the Mile as the “premier event in the sport” and boost interest in and coverage by media of the Mile “for those who love the distance as well as the general public.” BBTM website materials make the case for the Mile as a “storied distance”.
Others on the BBTM bandwagon say it’s America’s classic distance. Here in the US all people know what a mile is, and as US runners we measure distances and speeds using this unit rather than meters, they proclaim. BBTM founder Ryan Lamppa, also one of the founders of Running USA, started EVENTPRO, a media and marketing company in 1997. It was EVENTPRO that launched the BBTH movement in 2012.
Returning the Mile to the list of high school track and field meet events in place of the1600 meter race is one of the stated purposes of this organization. Once upon a time in America it was THE race, but BBMT says changes in track construction practices in the 1980’s led to the creation of 400 meter rather than 440 yard ovals. Thus, instead of running 4 laps and covering a mile, this number of revolutions on the track now cover 1600 meters, about 9 yards shy of a full mile (1609 yards). Mile races are contested in only a few official HS State Meets.
There’s history behind The Mile, and bringing it back might increase interest in track and field as a sport in general.
Here’s a quick history quiz to see if you GET the Mile. Fill in the blank:
1. Englishman Roger Bannister was the first human to run a sub-4 minute____.
2. Jim Ryun was the first American high schooler to run a sub-4-minute____.
3. The distance race that fictional character Quentin Cassidy of the novel “Once a Runner” specialized in was the ____.
4. War hero Louis Zamperini whose life was chronicled in the movie “Unbroken” was a US champion who set a national collegiate ____ record in 1938 that held for fifteen years, earning him the nickname "Torrance Tornado".
5. Counter-factual question: from memory, name a famous 1600-meter racer or quote a line from any source that includes “1600 meter”.
(1-4. ANSWERS: all "mile")
Seems like the SUMMER is ideal for recording-beating outdoor Mile races. Did you know this? According to the website BBMT “July is the month with the most outdoor Mile world records set with 15 (13 men’s and 2 women’s); August is second with 11 (7 men’s and 4 women’s).”
It appears that US track fanatics and elites love the lore and magic of the Mile; but, IS THE MILE RACE FOR YOU and other recreational runners? Taking a look at the type of training that could be involved in preparing for a Mile race might help settle the question. Mario Fraioli created an 8-week plan that can be downloaded free from the link in the article.
For health- and shape-conscious runners, training for a mile run seems to be perfect. HIIT sessions predominate, there’s adequate opportunity to cross-train and rest, and time spent pounding the pavement in any one workout is limited. It’s likely that regular runners who want to join the fun of a Mile race will forgo formal training and “just do it” as the Nike ad says.
RunningUSA.org REPORTS THAT THE NUMBER OF PATRTICIPANTS IN RACES one mile in distance (“the Mile”) has “continued to rise” with roughly 149,000 crossing the finish line last year. The number of mile events also increased in 2016 (1,530) but did not surpass the record tally established in 2014 (1,800) in the United States.
The largest was identified as the New Balance Fifth Avenue Mile with 6,148 finishers. In distant second place with 3,737 finishers is Virginia Beach VA, Yuengling Shamrock Operation Smile Final Mile, part of the Shamrock Marathon event. The remaining 8 are presented in a table in the Running USA article.
Because race numbers are still relatively low, registration for these races may not close out months in advance. Spur of the moment sign-ups mean spontaneous fun is still possible.
Ryan Wood compiled a list of “7 Must-Do Mile Road Races” in an article for Competitor.com. It includes the NYC 5th Avenue Mile. Also, the Twin Cities Medtronic TC 1 Mile and Grand Blue Mile; both hosted the USATF Mile Championships. The Macklind Mile by Smoothie King in St. Louis MO is a bit quirkier, offering 6 separate races including a Dog Mile, with separate registration for pooches. The Londonderry NH Millennium Mile is run on January 1 morning, a bracing way to kick off a New Year.
Destination races on the list are the Hoka One One State Street Mile in Santa Barbara CA, the Boulder CO Pearl Street Mile, and the Encinitas Mile, near San Diego CA.
Earned Runs thinks BBTM is on to something good for American running. There’s history, tradition, fun, spontaneity, and manageable training involved in running the Mile as non-professionals. If excitement for this distance builds among recreational runners media coverage of national high school, collegiate and elite events may increase and with it the quality of the competitive field at each level. Like golfers and tennis players, runners could enjoy watching our sport’s heroes as they ascend to the rank of champion.
Shaking things up in the running world might be exactly what’s needed to get more people moving and away from electronic devices. Rather than striving to post a video watched by millions we might want to take on 1609 yards, very fast.
JUST FOR FUN ARTICLE ABOUT THE MILE
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. In 1978 I began participating in 10K road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health and longevity.
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