No country has been quite as enveloped by the romanticism of the mile as the United States. The 1609m distance is still run during the indoor season and remains the blue riband event. The days of Roger Bannister rewriting human limitations on the Iffley Park track are now but a distant memory, and with a 3:58 time required to guarantee participation at the National Indoor Championships for the men, no distance race is deeper in quality. The appeal and allure remains in the US, despite the 1500m replacing it on the world circuit.
The mile, however, still stands as a barometer of achievement by those outside of the sport, to the common spectator, and is revered and respected. So, every Spring, student-athletes across the nation spike up and run this arbitrary distance on flat tracks, banked tracks and oversized tracks alike, with the goal of becoming national champion.
However, this party has been crashed, on an incredible frequency, by athletes from Britain and Ireland. As long as athletes have been heading across the Atlantic, they have been consistently over- performing on this stage. Of course, the athletes from the British Isles that chase this American dream are of good quality, but man-for-man, and woman-for-woman, they have had remarkable success in this race.
So, at trackboundUSA HQ, we have compiled what we believe to be a definitive guide to these achievements. Researching pre-2000 proved difficult, but here are what we believe to be the finalists in the years 2002-2011, and their subsequent placing. We have linked the winner to the race video where possible.
|2002||Chris Mulvaney 6 th (Arkansas)||Roisin McGettigan 5 th (Providence)|
|2003||Chris Mulvaney 1 st (Arkansas)||Roisin McGettigan 4 th (Providence)|
|2004||Chris Mulvaney 9 th (Arkansas)|
|2005||Tom Lancashire 4 th (FSU)|
|2006||Tom Lancashire 4 th (FSU)|
|2007||Scott Overall 6th (Butler)||Barbara Parker 4 th (FSU)|
|Tim Bayley 11th (Iona)|
|2008||Hannah England 1 st (FSU)|
|2009||Lee Emanuel 1st (New Mexico)||Charlotte Browning 8th (Florida)|
|David McCarthy 4 th (Providence)|
|2010||Lee Emanuel 1 st (New Mexico)||Charlotte Browning 1st (Florida)|
|Rob Mullet 7 th (Butler)|
|2011||Chris O’Hare 2nd (Tulsa)|
As shown above, there has been Brit-Irish representation in an NCAA mile final every year since 2002, with 5 victories in the same time. But it hasn’t just been the last decade that has seen this success. Listed below are the winners of the mile from the inception of the Indoor championships in 1973 for men, and 1983 for women.
|Past British and Irish Winners Pre 2002|
|1975||Eamonn Coghlan (Villanova)|
|1976||Eamonn Coghlan (Villanova)|
|1983||Aisling Molloy (BYU)|
|1985||Paul Donovan (Arkansas)|
|1986||Paul Larkins (Oklahoma State)|
|1992||Andy Keith (Providence)|
|1993||Niall Bruton (Arkansas)|
|1994||Niall Bruton (Arkansas)|
The above list is even more remarkable when you consider that Irish athletes such as Frank O’Mara (3:55 at college), Niall O’Shaughnessy (3:56), Marcus O’Sullivan (3:56), Ray Flynn (3:56) don’t even feature.
|Chris O’Hare (Tulsa)||3:56|
|Rich Peters (Boston)||3:58|
|Ross Millington (New Mexico)||3:59|
|Tom Marshall (Tulsa)||4:00|
|Ross Clarke (Butler)||4:02|
|Harry Ellis (Butler)||Did not compete|
|Adam Cotton (Harvard)||Freshman – 3:41 1500m – may not compete indoors|
|Hannah Brooks (FSU)||4:40|
So what is behind this success? Using comparative populations is not an effective metric due to participation levels; instead we should look at the number of British and Irish athletes in the NCAA compared to their US counterparts. Our database tells us of 83 known British and Irish athletes within NCAA D1 (we can possibly attribute 5-10 more that we do not know about). Compare this to the overall student-athlete figure competing within indoor track which stands at nearly 21,000. Now, we appreciate that further statistics on mile specific participation figures would further validate our point, but it’s clear to see that the success in the mile goes way beyond normal levels of pro-rata accomplishment, even considering the skew in the figures due to the fact that most Brit-Irish athletes are distance oriented.