THE 2 MILE RUN
Some say that the most exciting event on the track is the mile relay (4 x 400), and that may be true. However, to this writer, and many more devote track & field aficionados, the 2 mile run is the most exciting, and to those who conquer the event, historical and honorary regard is the reward. The mythical benchmark standard for this ‘glamour” event is to run sub-9:00 (8:56.4 for 3200). In our sections’ history only two (2) athletes have ever broken that distinguished barrier for 2 miles, Mitch Kingery (San Carlos-‘75-8:57.3-) and Mike Ryan (Wilcox-’65-8:57.8-). Jesse Torres (Independence-’81-8:52.11) and Mike McCollum (Palo Alto-’81-8:56.11) ran faster times, however for the now run, 3200m distance. Top Marks. Ryan (Air Force Academy) went on to become the NCAA Cross-Country Champion (1968, 2nd 1969) and McCollum (Cal) enjoyed banner years while competing at the University of California-Berkeley (later teaming up with his coach, Brian Maxwell, and investing in Powerbars energy supplement). Kingery is also the CCS record holder in the marathon.
Although the Mile Run has enjoyed huge notoriety over the years, the 2 mile has the distinction of being the event which is a measurement of endurance, power, speed, and intestinal fortitude (see Gerry Lindgren). Currently there are only 200 preps, all–time, who have ever eclipsed sub-9:00 in the 2-mile. The most notable being Steve Prefontaine (Coos Bay, OR ‘69), however there were three (3) others who have run faster.
Californian, Jeff Nelson (Burbank-’79) ran 8:36.3 to capture the National HS Record from then record holder Craig Virgin (Lebanon-’73) and he is now at the top of the All-Time 2-Mile List. In his senior year Nelson ran sub-9:00 seven (7) times! (That same year he established the course record at MSAC-14:32-’79). He was the State 2-mile Champion as a junior (8:59.28). He opened his senior year by winning the Sunkist Invitational (indoors) in 8:55.1, ran 8:42.7 at the Jack In The Box Invitational (now the San Diego Indoor) in an open race and then, outdoors, ran 8:55.0 (Burbank Invitational), 8:36.3 (Pepsi Invitational-UCLA), 8:51.3 (3-A Sub-Section Finals), 8:49.1 (Southern Section Finals) and 8:47.35 to win the California State Meet (Sacramento).
Probably the greatest distance running phenom ever was Gerry Lindgren (Rogers HS-Spokane, WA-’64). He ran over 200 miles a week and as a high school senior ran 8:40.0i and 4:01.5 He ran 13:44 for 5000 to make the 1964 Olympic Team, placing 9th in the final and was 9 seconds off of the world record! He was regarded as quirky, goofy and even crazy, but he could sure run. In August of his senior year he doubled, 40:1.5 and 13:17 for 3 miles!