Courtesy: Don Kardong, Bloomsday
Spokane, WA—The man who many consider the greatest miler of all time will be in Spokane on Bloomsday weekend to share the story of his world record and help start the Bloomsday crowd on Sunday. Jim Ryun, the first high school runner to break the legendary four-minute barrier, and who later set the world record of 3:51.3 (later lowered to 3:51.1), is scheduled to speak at Lewis and Clark High School at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, May 5. Admission is free and open to the public. Ryun will also be Bloomsday’s official starter on May 7, helping kick off the start of the 41st Lilac Bloomsday Run.
In 1964 Ryun became the first high school runner to break four minutes for the mile, running 3:59.0 as a junior at Wichita East High School in Wichita, Kansas. Jim Ryun established the high school and U.S. open mile record of 3:55.3 as a senior in 1965, a record that stood as the high school record for 36 years until broken by Alan Webb’s 3:53.43 in 2001. Today, Ryun still holds five of the six fastest mile times in U.S. high school history (all sub-four minute), with Alan Webb’s record race holding the other spot. Ryun is the last American to hold the mile world record.
Ryun participated in three summer Olympic Games: 1964, 1968, and 1972, winning a silver medal in the 1500-meter run in 1968. He turned professional shortly after the 1972 Olympic Games and for the next two years ran professionally on the International Track Association circuit. After that, he retired from track competition altogether.
Ryun then operated Jim Ryun Sports, a public relations company that ran sports camps, and worked as a motivational speaker at meetings of corporations and Christian groups around the country. Ryun was also a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from 1996 to 2007, representing Kansas's 2nd congressional district.
1967 was one of Ryun’s greatest years, as he ran a world record in the indoor half mile (1:48.3) and outdoors lowered his world-record time in the mile from 3:51.3 to 3:51.1, a record that stood for almost eight years. That same year he set the world record for the 1500 meters in 3:33.1, running his last lap in a blazing 53.3 seconds and his final 1,200 meters in an amazing 2:46.6.
In NCAA competition, Ryun was the 1967 NCAA outdoor mile champion. He was also the NCAA indoor mile champion in 1967, 1968, and 1969, and in 1968 doubled back to win the 1968 NCAA indoor two-mile championship race, handing WSU’s Gerry Lindgren his only NCAA championship loss.
Jim and his sons, Ned and Drew, have co-authored three books: Heroes Among Us, The Courage to Run, and In Quest of Gold - The Jim Ryun Story. Married in January of 1969, Jim and Anne Ryun live in Washington, D.C. They have four adult children and twelve grandchildren. Since 1973, Ryun and his family have hosted the Jim Ryun Running Camp every summer for young as well as adult runners. (Official website: www.ryunrunning.com).