Fifty-two years ago today, Kansas held its state championship track meet. One of the runners who toed the starting line that day was Jim Ryun. By 1965, though, Ryun was already famous. The year before, he’d become the first high schooler to break four minutes in the mile. That summer, he competed in the Tokyo Olympics.
He’d later lower his high school record to 3:55.3, a record that stood until Alan Webb broke it in 2001. But it was his 3:58.3 on May 15th, 1965, that may have been his most impressive high school run. Watch the video below: The track, at Wichita State University, is a mess. Ryun is alone for the final 600 yards or so.
Although most high schools don’t run the mile anymore—most run the 1600 meters, about nine meters short of a mile—Ryun remains a mythical figure among kid runners. He went from high school junior to running phenom in what must have seemed like an instant. Every prep distance runner dreams of suddenly becoming a phenom like Ryun.
Several other high schoolers have run a sub-4 minute mile since Ryun. But only two others—Lukas Verzbicas in the 2011 Jim Ryun Dream Mile and Michael Slagowski last year in Portland—have run sub-4 against only high schoolers.