I can remember the first true, timed foot race I ever ran.
In eighth grade, I was running track. It was the mile and I won. My time was 6:24, which I thought was really fast and which I soon found out was not.
The mile, or actually The Mile, is a legendary distance in running, rivaled probably only by the marathon. It is forever linked to history with names like Roger Bannister, Jim Ryun and Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj, whose world record of 3:43.13 has stood for 15 years.
And yet, with the metric system and its 5Ks and 10Ks, The Mile has faded in its glory.
The Mile's metric equivalent, 1,500 meters, falls well short, literally and figuratively to The Mile. And the faux 1,600 meters, the compromised mile for high school runners, is actually nine meters shy of perfection.
Bring back The Mile
The Mile, however, has some advocates.
"The Mile is a great opportunity to check your fitness, get in some speed work and get a rust buster in before the fall 5K season starts up a few weeks later, " says Academic Magnet High School running coach Brian Johnson, who is organizing one of two local one-mile races in August.
"Most people have to run a mile at some point in their life. This gives them an opportunity to see how they compare to their high school PE class days. It also gives regular runners an answer to the age old question they get from friends, family and coworkers when they find out you run which is, 'How fast can you run a mile?' "
In recent years, a movement called "Bring Back the Mile" has been trying to promote mile races for this reason: "No running distance, or field event for that matter, has the history, the appeal, the 'magic' of The Mile. The Mile, like the 100 meters and the marathon, is a running event that most Americans know something about or have a general feeling for, and thus, there is a built-in awareness of and audience for The Mile ..."
Last year, two efforts to bring back The Mile to the Charleston area, which used to host the King Street Mile, took place, though with relatively minimal participation. Organizers of the Montague Mile and the Magnet Mile, both in North Charleston's Park Circle area, are taking another stab at it in the coming weeks.
The Montague Mile
The Montague Mile, an event put on by the Charleston Marathon, will be 5-7 p.m. Sunday on Montague Avenue, near DIG in the Park. It will feature heats for males and females in various divisions, including high school, open, masters and invited. It will kick off with a youth division race.
Charleston Marathon board member Howie Schomer came up with the idea for the Montague Mile and made some tweaks to it this year, including moving the date from mid-September to early August.
"We'd like to have it as sort of a kickoff to the fall racing season, and warm weather and a short distance race work well together," says Schomer.
He also moved the starting line close to the finish line.
"We're going to start the races just above DIG in the Park on Montague and they'll finish just below DIG in the other direction. This will make it more spectator-friendly and avoid the runners having to run down to the start away from the restrooms, water, et cetera," says Schomer, adding that it will also eliminate the possibility of being stopped by a train crossing.
The new route, which includes more turns, can be seen here: www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6376353
The Magnet Mile will be 8:30 a.m. Aug. 16 at Academic Magnet High School. All runners will start together. Brian Johnson, the running coach at Academic Magnet, organized last year's race and also tweaked the course.
"This year the course will start in a different spot so that the course will be a loop with a smaller section being run twice. We will have the Fleet Feet arch, which runners will run under for the finish," says Johnson.
To sign up, go to http://bit.ly/1oBzTwB.
Yoga in 'the barn'
In partnership with the Yoga House of Charleston, the Flats at Mixson will host a community yoga event called Barefoot in The Barn at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Current and aspiring yogis of all skill levels are invited to attend the event, which is free and open to the public.
Participants are asked to bring their own yoga mats or towels. Immediately following the yoga class, participants are invited to enjoy complimentary refreshments at The Flats at Mixson.
The Barn at Mixson is located at 4501 Mixson Ave., in North Charleston.
For more information,go to the Facebook event page at http://on.fb.me/1lNKlMz.
The organizers of Chucktown Showdown will hold the Team Esthetic Race Series-Race No. 7, featuring races of 8.5 miles and 4.4 miles, on Saturday at Brittlebank Park.
All entry fees for the race are waived. The sign-in starts at 7:15 a.m. and the races start at 8 a.m.
More on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1lNKdwv.
Reach David Quick at 937-5516.
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