Spikes04 Apr 2014

The world's fastest mile


Queen St Mile

Hold on to your hats! The most adrenaline-fuelled mile in the world is back. Ahead of this year's race, read the amazing story of New Zealand's Queen Street Golden Mile.

On Sunday (6th April), plucky runners of all abilities will be careering downhill on Auckland’s main commercial thoroughfare, as part of the world's fastest mile.

The race achieved legendary status thanks to the staggering times witnessed on the unique course 30 years ago.

In 1983, Kenya's 1972 Olympic 800m bronze medallist Mike Boit covered the distance in a mind-boggling 3:28.36, which to this day, is still the fastest-ever recorded mile (according to the Guinness Book of Records). Watch it below:

That same year, Kiwi Christine Hughes ran 4:02.93: the fastest ever recorded mile for a woman.

The course plunges sharply downhill for the majority of the 1760-yard distance, like a roller coaster's dip. Former mile world record holder John Walker, who finished fourth in the 1982 event, described it as “terrifying”.

The inaugural race took place in 1972, when Tony Polhill took the honours in 3:47.6. After a ten-year hiatus, the event was revived in 1982, and former US mile record holder Steve Scott defeated a world-class field to win the race in 3:31.25. Twelve months later, Boit put on his super-human performance.

Sadly, this was to prove the end of the road, until John Walker's son Richard decided he would like to revive the event for a second time. Last year, after a 30-year break, the race made its welcome return.

Now taking place on a slightly adjusted course from the eighties version: it is still the world’s fastest mile.

In 2013, Australia’s middle-distance international Ryan Gregson won in 3:48.58 – almost a second quicker than Silas Kiplagat's world leading mile on the track, and more than 8 seconds faster than Gregson's own SB.

This year, it has been amalgamated as part of the opening race of the ITU World Triathlon Series in Auckland. The co-operative agreement will hopefully further help build the profile of the event, which features a clash between 2012 US road mile champion Craig Millar, and four-time New Zealand 1500m champion Hamish Carson.

The day will be a celebration of the mile, with a series of races for everyone from elite runners to fun runners. There's even a celebrity race to help raise money for John Walker’s ‘Find Your Field of Dreams’ Foundation.

So what advice would John Walker give to anyone tackling the event for the first time?

“If you’ve never run it before, you will experience a speed you’ve never run before,” he says. “You have to be a bit careful at the start, because we went through 800m in 1:41. Once you reach the flat, the final 300m can get a bit more difficult. Bide your time and save something for the finish, because that’s when it counts.”

Pages related to this article