The mile is unique in that it requires a combination of 50 percent speed and 50 percent stamina. In other words, in order to be a good miler you need to be able to run a respectable 400 meter as well as a good 5K.
The one mile run has always held facination in the world of track and field. According to wikipedia, the first recorded world record was 4:28 by Charles Westhall back in 1852.
"With the exception of the mile run, races based on imperial distances are rarely run on the track anymore since most tracks have been converted from a quarter mile (402.3 m) to 400 m; almost all record keeping for imperial distances has been discontinued. However, the IAAF record book still includes the mile world record because of its worldwide historic significance" -wikepedia
note: When I graduated from U of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1976 we were still running track races measured in yards and miles.
It's been several years since we've seen a world record in the mile-
Hicham El Guerrouj from Morocco last set the men's recored in 1999 running 3:43.13. On the women's side, Russian Svetlana Masterkova ran 4:12.56 in 1996.
The last time an American male held the world record was way back in 1966 when 20 year old Jim Ryun ran 3:51.3. Before Ryun, American Glenn Cunningham set the record in 1934 with a 4:06.7. American Mary Slaney ran 4:16.71 in 1985, and is still the only American woman to ever hold the mile world record (women didn't begin running that far competitively until 1967!)
More facts about the mile:
Roger Bannister was the first to break 4 minutes, running 3:59.4 on May 6, 1954. Watch this remarkable footage of the historic race!
One Mile Run Trivia
17- the age of Jim Ryun when he broke 4 minutes the first time
Polly Plumer holds the U.S. high school girls mile record- 4:35.24 set in 1984
Alan Webb holds the boys record - 3:53.53 set in 2001
1:50- an estimated 800 meter time that gives a runner an indication he has the tools to break 4 minutes, however according to the McMillan Running Calculator, a 3:59 mile is equivelant to a 1:47 800 meter and a 13:48 5,000.
3:48.45- current world indoor record set by Hicham El Guerrouj in 1974
4- the number of Americans that broke 4 minutes in high school- Ryun (1964), Tim Danielson (1966), Marty Liquori (1967), and Alan Webb (2001).
Father/son combo to both run under 4 minutes: Barry and Darren Brown, Matt Centrowitz and Matt Jr., Kip and Martin Keino (Kenyans)
Don Bowden- first American to break 4 minutes, 1957
136- The number of sub 4 minute miles by Steve Scott
3:49.4- Time run by Kiwi John Walker in 1975, first to break 3:50.
3:49.78- Time run by Irishman Eamonn Coughlan in 1983, first to break 3:50 indoors.
3:58.15- Time run by Eamonn Coughlin in 1994 at 41 years of age, the only runner to ever break 4 after turning 40.
327 -number of members in the U.S. Sub- 4 Minute Mile Club (as of July 17, 2009
1,609 is the number of meters in a mile, so the high school 1,600 meter run falls about 9 meters short.
The mile record for running backward is 6:02.35 set by D. Joseph James (runningtimes)
The official Beer Mile Record is 5:09 by Jim Finlayson (Kingston Rules - 4 beers in 4 laps)
4:42.36- The Joggling World Record for 1 mile (running while juggling) set by Will Howard in 2003)
From beginners to elites to sideshows, and whether your goal is 4, 5,6, or 7 minutes, the one mile distance remains a favorite measuring stick for all middle and long distance runners.