It used to be that a good one-mile race was one of the biggest attractions in sports, when athletes like the U.K.’s Roger Bannister, the U.S.’s Jim Ryun and Kenya’s Kip Keino rocketed to international fame. But as the world has gravitated more to the metric system, the classic mile has lost a lot of its luster. Few international mile races remain open on the international circuit. In the last several years however, a grassroots movement called Bring Back the Mile is attempting to restore 5,280 feet to relevance.
Runners of all ages participated in the second annual Navy Mile. Proceeds from the USATF-sanctioned event support the Naval Sea Cadet Corps, the Safe Harbor Foundation and the Navy Memorial. USAA was the lead sponsor for the event. The series of 14 one-mile heats down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, Oct. 2, kicked off the United States Navy’s birthday week.
Runners were grouped by age group. A special heat was reserved for the Sea Cadets. The event concluded with special heats for the “elite” races, for men and women who met special qualification standards. These were won by Riley Masters of Seattle and Heather Kampf of Minneapolis with times of 4:03 and 4:38 respectively. Masters just missed collecting a special cash bonus for breaking the four-minute barrier.
Famous miler, Olympian and Congressman Jim Ryun made a special appearance on Friday during packet pickup at the United States Navy Memorial. He also spoke about his journey from being cut by the church baseball team to becoming ESPN’s number-one high school athlete of all time. Ryun was the first high school athlete to break the four-minute mile. In 1966, at age 19, Ryun set world records in the mile (3:51.3) and the half-mile (1:44.9).
One of the more notable contestants was Dixon Hemphill, age 91, of Fairfax Station, Virginia, who completed the course.
Another contestant, Ediberto Crisanto of Columbia, South Carolina, surprised girlfriend Camille Clemmons-James by proposing marriage after his race. She accepted.
*View Jeff Malet’s photos of the Navy Mile by clicking on the photo icons below.*