How did the 1500m originate, how come it's included in major championships and will mile races ever return to a high level of competition?
Personally I have always tended towards the longer distance. I have only ever ran two 1 mile races in my life, both at the age of 41 years. That was in 1998, the first in June was at a VAANEE meeting where I ran 4.36.5. The second attempt was a few weeks later in August, running 4.36.3.
Despite my lack of races over the distance and to be frank, pretty mediocre times, I have always had a special regard for ‘The Mile’, as I suspect have many others.
The Mile to me, also seems to hold a special place in athletics along with the marathon. However, unlike the marathon, the Mile has been usurped by a metric cousin. In this case the 1500m.
So why has the 1500m become more popular than the Mile and as a result become firmly entrenched in all athletics championships from regional level to the Olympics?
After all, even though the Mile was a popular and prevalent athletics distance worldwide during the 1890’s, it was the establishment of the Modern Olympics (by the French) in 1896 which saw the introduction of the 1500m into major championships.
As they used the metric measure, the French laid 500m tracks, such as the one used for the 1900 Olympics in Paris. This would mean a neat spectator and athlete friendly race over 3 laps rather than the 3.75 laps we have using today’s 400m tracks.
I for one, hope that the Mile does not disappear from the athletics calendar altogether and that it regains some of its former popularity. Currently in America there is a campaign to ‘Bring back The Mile’ and a little closer to home, if you over 35 years old I notice that the VAANEE track meeting on June 11th has a Mile scheduled. Perhaps I will see you there.