Hicham El Guerrouj - Altitude train ()Hicham El Guerrouj - Altitude train () © Copyright

Bring back the mile

Two years ago, former athlete Ryan Lamppa started the movement 'Bring Back The Mile - America's Distance'. Here are FOUR reasons why he might just be getting somewhere.

1. The mile movement

"Here in America we eat, sleep and think in miles. Not kilometres. The distance is deeply embedded in our culture," says Lamppa. "We are not trying to insult the British by calling it 'America’s Distance'. Great Britain is the 'home of the mile'."

The movement is very popular. Lamppa can count former on US mile record holder Steve Scott, running broadcaster Toni Reavis and former world record holder Jim Ryun among his supporters.

"Jim said to me: 'One, it is a great idea, I like it. Secondly and most importantly: how can I help?'"

World and Olympic 1500m medallists Leo Manzano, Jenny Simpson and Matt Centrowitz are also hugely supportive of Bring Back The Mile (BBTM).

"Half of our Facebook audience are under-30, so young people get the mile too,” says Lamppa. “The mile is universally liked and people want to follow the mile."

Leo Manzano and Matt Centrowitz | Tracktown USA ()

Middle distance champions: Leo Manzano and Matt Centrowitz support BBTM.

2. Timing is everything

The campaign was launched to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Jim Beatty's first indoor sub-four minute mile.

"As often as we can we try to tie in the history of the mile," says Lamppa. "Our goal is to celebrate and elevate the past, present and future of the mile and to get people talking about the mile."

So, in 2014, what better time to bang the drum for the mile than the 60th anniversary of Roger Bannister's monumental feat?

3. BBTM on tour

With the support of Running Warehouse and Hoka One One, BBTM has launched a mile Grand Prix, and the tour started with an indoor mile in North Carolina. Check out their jam-packed calendar, here. There's $85,000 available in prize money and with US middle-distance running in such rude health, Lamppa feels it's the right time to capitalise.

"Depth-wise we are at an all-time high [for middle-distance] in the USA. Last year we had more than 20 women run under 4:10 for 1500m. We have world-class milers winning Olympic and world championship medals. We haven’t had that for decades.

"There is a brand new mile called 'The City of London Mile' in June and, hey, if we have inspired this, then great."

4. Four laps and beyond

Bring Back The Mile's four-year plan is like a four lap race. The team are now running a steady third lap and are hoping to kick like Ann Packer at the bell.

"The first two laps went as well as we could have expected," says Lamppa. "We are looking for a substantial foothold that will allow us to develop more. We think four years is long enough to be able to know whether the project is established and long term."

If the Grand Prix tour is successful, BBTM hope to host their own mile gala. They are also ambitious about getting more miles on a TV screen near you.

"We hope to have conversations with the television networks to put on more mile races," says BBTM marketing director David Monico. "Over here in the States they put on half an hour of cross fit, so why not more mile races? That is a big goal beyond lap four."