Former world’s top middle distance runner Jim Ryun helped kick off the 5th Annual Navy Mile along Pennsylvania Ave, NW in Washington D.C. on Sunday October 6.
The event, organized by the National Capital Council of the Navy League, marked the beginning of Navy Heritage Week, the United States Navy’s birthday celebration. The “Navy Mile” is a series of one-mile race heats grouped by age and ability; and supports the Naval Sea Cadet Corps, Safe Harbor Foundation and Navy Memorial.
The Navy Mile on Pennsylvania Avenue includes the championship event of the Bring Back the Mile Grand Prix, featuring Olympic-caliber male and female elite athletes from around the world competing in their respective elite heats offering $15,000 in prize money. The United States is one of the few countries today that uses the mile as a distance measurement. In recent times, the once vaunted race has been displaced by the ‘1500 meters’. Bring Back the Mile is spearheading a movement to reesatablish the ‘mile’ to its former glory.
Jim Ryun served as the official starter for both the men’s and women’s elite races. Ryun was the first high schooler to break the 4 minute mile barrier. His time of 3:55.3 in 1965 was a high school record that stood for 36 years. ESPN.com named him the best high school athlete of all time, ahead of Tiger Woods and LeBron James. In 1966, at age nineteen, Ryun set world records in the mile (3:51.3, chopping 2.3 seconds off the previous record) and the half-mile (1:44.9). He won the silver medal at 1500 meters at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Ryun later served in the House of Representatives from 1996 to 2007 representing Kansas’ 2nd congressional district.
Emily Lipari of Alexandria Va., 26, claimed a $3000 check by winning the women’s elite mile with a time of 4 minutes 33 seconds defeating runner up Shannon Osika by inches. She also earned a $500 bonus for breaking the course record. Lipari has a wedding coming up (to a Navy man), and some the money has already been earmarked for her wedding dress.
Daniel Herrera of New Orleans La., 26 won the men’s elite race, and $3,000, with a time of 4:05.
Close to 150 volunteers from the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps competed in their own heat and push up contest. The congressionally-chartered, U.S. Navy-based program teaches individuals from ages 10-18 about the sea-going military services, U.S. naval operations and training, community service, citizenship, and an understanding of discipline and teamwork.
The day’s highest accolades were reserved for 94 year old World War II Navy veteran Dixon Hemphill of Fairfax Station, Va. who competed in the 70 year and older heat now named after him. Like his father before him, Lt. Commander Hemphill joined the Navy, and served from 1943 until 1946, plus an additional 17 years in the reserves. He is a former world class athlete according his college bio. He was accompanied to the event by his wife June and their extensive family.
“The mile is America’s distance” proclaimed Charlie Hautau, the Chairman of The Navy Mile organizing committee.
View Jeff Malet’s photos from the 2019 Navy Mile by clicking on the photo icons below.