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American Running Honors four laps under four.

Fifty years ago this past May, the historic university town of Oxford, England was the site of the first sub-4 minute mile in track and field. Many sports historians today consider that feat to be the greatest sporting achievement of the 20th century. Fifty years later, the American Running Association (ARA) honored the grand achievement of Sir Roger Bannister, M.D., at the 2nd Annual American Running Honors, a gala supporting the Walk-Run programs of ARA. The golden anniversary of Bannister's barrier-busting race did not go unnoticed. No less than three new books had hit the bookshelves to tell the tale of the first human to run a mile in less than four minutes. One of these books served as the backdrop for the Gala that night. In a scene quite contrary to most black tie Galas, the 300 guests at the American Running Honors were standing in line to get books signed, not a cocktail. The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb is the tale of the three men pursuing the sub-4 minute barrier and the ultimate showdown of two men who had achieved the first and second sub-4 minute miles in world history. On this one magical night in Washington, D.C., both miler honorees and attendees were clutching their complimentary hardcover books like young fans of rock stars holding tight to their autograph books.

Seventeen of the greatest milers in the world came together on May 26th to both honor the feat of Sir Roger Bannister and share stories among an elite gathering of men and women who had achieved greatness over the past 50 years. Some of the legends of ARA and AMAA were also present. Ron Lawrence, founder of AMAA and a key contributor to the evening's theme (Note: Ron and Sir Roger are both neurologists and became friends close to 30 years ago) came to D.C. from his seaside home in Malibu, California. The second President of ARA, Don Fraser, also came to the event from his home near Napa Valley.

The message of staying healthy and becoming fit through walking and running was clear when ARA presented the first American Running Youth Fitness Honor to an elementary school nurse, Rhonda Snyder. In her school in Dearborn, Michigan, Rhonda had instilled a commitment to a "healthy heart" as the reason to get all kids moving on a daily basis. She had managed to get over 75% of the school participating in two years. Half of these kids were special needs students with physical disabilities or mental retardation. No one was left on the sidelines on Rhonda's playing field.

In May 2004 we honored the greats in miler history. We also honored someone who is fighting the battle to keep our kids fit and deter obesity. Certainly a good battle for AMAA and ARA to fight together.

--Dave Watt, AMAA Executive Director
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Title Annotation:Front of the Pack
Author:Watt, Dave
Publication:AMAA Journal
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 22, 2004
Words:477
Previous Article:Don't play it again Sam.
Next Article:Meet the new AMAA president.
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