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They're going the distance to bring back the mile

February 10, 2012 | 10:49 am

Mile

There can’t be a better day than the 50th anniversary of the first sub-four-minute indoor mile to note the formation of a group dedicated to restoring the mile as a competitive event in this increasingly metric world.

On Feb. 10, 1962 Jim Beatty added to the lore of the mile by running it in 3 minutes 58.9 seconds at the Sports Arena, beating the existing indoor record by 2.5 seconds. But over time, meters replaced yards and the mile became a somewhat neglected event. The Olympic distance is 1,500 meters.

“There is just something about the mile that makes it special and different than other events,” said Ryan Lamppa,"  a founder of the running industry group Running USA and founder of Bring Back the Mile, a group dedicated to reviving that distance at all levels.

“No running distance, or field event for that matter, has the history, the appeal, the magic of the mile. Think about the continued impact of Roger Bannister’s first sub-four-minute mile, which still resonates today throughout the world.

“Also, the 1,600 meters at the high school level makes no sense in the context of the sport because beyond U.S. high school the event doesn’t exist.”

Lamppa said he has enlisted an impressive array of supporters, including former milers Jim Ryun, Marty Liquori and Ruth Wysocki, and he has started a website, bringbackthemile.com. The site contains a form that can be sent to state high school federations supporting the return of the mile, and it has a video of Beatty’s record run.

Beatty, who ran for the Los Angeles Track Club, is alive and well at 77 and living in Charlotte, N.C. According to a story in the Charlotte Observer, he drives a car whose license plate reads “1st3:58.9.”

-- Helene Elliott

Photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum runs on a track in August. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times.

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