June 6, 2013
For immediate release

From Bannister to El Guerrouj, the distance delivers its magic

The mile remains one of running’s magical events, a classic distance that demands strength and speed, delivers riveting competition and dares to remind us of what’s possible.

Check out its rich history. For years, a sub-4 minute mile seemed impossible, until
Great Britain’s Roger Bannister removed such limits with an electrifying 3:59.4 effort on May 6, 1954.

That breakthrough swung the door wide open. Australian John Landy ran 3:57.9 a month later to set a new world record. A succession of great milers, including American Jim Ryun, New Zealand’s John Walker and Great Britain’s Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett, then helped lower the world record to the 3:43.13 standard set by Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj in 1999.

Sacramento gets a taste of the event on June 15 with the debut of The Freedom Mile, put on by the Sacramento Running Association. The race begins at 8 a.m.

Instead of on the track, this mile will be run on a loop in William Land Park as a part of the 12th annual Juneteenth Festival, a celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation signed in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln declaring all those held as slaves to be freed.

The festival includes a parade, a talent show, two stages of live entertainment, a health/wellness pavilion, an educational theater, a golf tournament and food/ware vendors. The event begins on

June 14 with a Gospel Under the Stars concert at 7 p.m., runs from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on June 15 and concludes with the golf tournament on June 16.

All proceeds from the Freedom Mile are set to go to St. HOPE Public Schools, a public charter school system with a focus on students from low-income and minority backgrounds.

St. HOPE provides children with a high-quality, rigorous college preparatory education. Strict accountability, rigorous standards, high expectations, increased learning time and the active involvement of parents, students, teachers and staff are emphasized.

“While many non-runners are not sure how far a 5k or 10k is, the mile is a distance that is familiar to everyone,” said Kevin Pool, the Sacramento Running Association’s Director of Technical Operations.

“The mile also has an additional allure relating to the 4-minute barrier, which was historically seen as beyond the limits of the human body. Although the 4-minute barrier has been broken countless times since Roger Bannister first achieved the feat, the one-mile run still has a mystique about it that other distances do not.

“The distance itself is historically significant and it presents a unique test of both speed and stamina.”

Sacramento has its own connections to the mile. Former Jesuit High School star Michael Stember ran a 4:04 mile in high school and recorded a 3:58.57 indoor mile while at Stanford. The Fair Oaks native went on to make the 2000 U.S. Olympic team in the 1,500 meters.

As a standout at Rio Americano High School in the early 1970s, Eileen Claugus set a national high school record of 4:40.7 that lasted for 10 years. She also won a national championship in the 14-17 age group at that distance and was an alternate to the U.S. Olympic Team in the 1,500 meters in 1972.

Former Oak Ridge High School star Alex Kosinski set a University of Oregon indoor mile record with a 4:39.54 effort as a freshman in 2008. She also established a national prep record in the 1,600 meters with a 4:38.5 performance in 2007.

The entry fee for the Freedom Mile is $20, with kids 12 and under running for free thanks to Coldwell Banker. To register, visit www.runsra.org.

Competition is set for 17 age groups, with the top three in each receiving an award. The start and finish are near Freeport Boulevard and 13th Avenue.

The Sacramento Running Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding ways to encourage people of all ages and abilities to run. The SRA is committed to developing new, quality running events that appeal to a broad variety of runners.

Other SRA events include the recent Gold Rush 100k, the Folsom Blues Breakout Half Marathon on Oct. 19, the California International Marathon on Dec. 8, the Super Bowl Sunday 10k Run on Feb. 2 and the Credit Union SACTOWN Ten-Mile Run on April 6.

SRA beneficiaries include the American River Parkway, youth fitness programs, local running venues and aspiring young runners.