Celebration event marking the 50th anniversary of Jim Ryun’s extraordinary feat to become the first high school boy to run a sub-4 minute mile
San Diego, CA – April 25, 2014 – On June 5, 2014, one of the most significant athletic achievements of the last century will be celebrated at San Diego’s historic Balboa Stadium: the 50th anniversary of Jim Ryun’s extraordinary feat to become the first high school boy to run a sub-4 minute mile. A national coalition including representatives from the San Diego Track Club, Bring Back the Mile, Competitor Group, Inc. and Ryun himself today announced plans for the Jim Ryun Festival of Miles, a summertime celebration in San Diego to honor the milestone achievement.
“It truly was a special day and a special race in the history of high school athletics,” said Ryun. “I’ve been blessed to have such a supportive network of family and friends in the running community, and our goal is to plan an event that everyone in our sport will be proud of. This isn’t just an event for me, but something that will showcase the greatest moments of high school running.”
Ryun was the first high school runner to break the four-minute mile as a junior at Wichita East High School in Wichita, Kansas. On June 5, 1964, on a clay track in Compton, California, he ran 3:59.0 to break the barrier for the first time. Then as a senior, he ran 3:55.3—a mark that stood for 36 years.
ESPN has rated him the number-one high school athlete of the century, beating out Tiger Woods and LeBron James. A three-time Olympian (1964, 1968 and 1972) and silver medalist at the 1,500-meters, Ryun eventually was elected as a United States Congressman from Kansas.
“One of the 2 or 3 seminal moments in our sport that transcended all sport was Jim Ryun running his first sub-4:00 high school mile,” said Tracy Sundlun, SVP of Competitor Group, Inc. “It captured the world’s imagination and having lived through it, it’s hard to believe it was 50-years ago. That day, that feat and that man, who has gone on to be one of the great role models and stories of our time, needs to be remembered, lauded and celebrated.”
“Jim’s performance in 1964 left an indelible mark on our sport. At the time, running sub-4:00 was rarefied air and Jim did it as a junior in high school. He still holds five of the top six high school miles in history, including the landmark defeat of Olympic Champion Peter Snell at Balboa Stadium in 1965. These feats, coupled with him reaching the semifinals of the 1964 Olympic Games, are why ESPN named him the top high school athlete of the century. There’s a reason why Jim has more Sports Illustrated covers than any other Track & Field athlete in history, he changed our sport,” said Josh Cox, co-chairman of the planning committee. “With the San Diego’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon the weekend before, it was a natural fit to work with the Competitor Group and plan a week-long celebration of running, culminating with a festival of miles that’s free and open to the public on Thursday night, June 5.”
The weeklong celebration of this historic mile record will kick off on Friday, May 30 with the 17th annual Suja Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Expo at the Convention Center in downtown San Diego, where Ryun will be presenting training tips and interacting with runners. Ryun will also serve as grand marshal for the marathon on Sunday, June 1. Events will take place throughout the following week, culminating with a ‘Festival of Miles’ on Thursday, June 5th at Balboa Stadium from 5:30-9 PM.
“We are honored to support this monumental anniversary, which has set the bar for high school athletics over the past 50 years,” said Coach Paul Greer of the San Diego Track Club, who will be involved with the planning of the event. “There isn’t a greater runner in American history that has inspired more young athletes to achieve their greatness than Jim Ryun. You couldn’t ask to honor a better person or a better role model, and there is no better venue than the historic Balboa Stadium.”
Official event sponsors include: Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Reliant Beverage Company, San Diego County Chik-fil-A stores, The Westin, Vision Biotechnology Consulting, Competitor Group, Inc. and USATF San Diego-Imperial Chapter. For more information about the Festival of Miles, please visit Competitor.com/JimRyun.