There are more outstanding milers in the world today than ever before, a fact confirmed when seven runners finished under 3:51 during a recent "Dream Mile" in Norway. The field was so fast that Steve Scott beat Jim Ryun's 13-year-old American record, yet finished third behind Steve Ovett and Jose Luis Gonzales.
The news out of Oslo was quickly followed by a report that some of these same milers were approached about running in New York. According to the New York Times, Fred Lebow quietly met with several top runners to discuss a possible mile race along Fifth Avenue in late September. As a president of the New York Road Runners Club, sponsor of the five-borough New York City Marathon, Lebow knows all about stopping traffic. Now he's reportedly working on two invitational miles, one for men and one for women, to be run as a package for TV. The races would begin in front of the Plaza Hotel on 59th Street and end at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 82nd.
The concept certainly has its appealing aspects -- a unique and majestic setting, tremendous exposure in a media capital, and the potential for taking world-class running to the public. Spectating, however, would probably be a one-shot affair, with none of the drama that builds watching runners from start to finish. For the competitors, a drawback would be that no record could be established compe ting on city streets.