Back in the day, I ran my 1600m PR under the lights at Bloom High School in the south suburbs of Chicago. Strangely enough, we did have lights in the dark ages. Much later, I ran my 5000m PR under the lights at the University of Iowa.
In that tradition, the third Mile High Mile embraces the magic of nighttime running under the lights. Niwot High School's speedy track plays host to its first night-time competition under their brand-new lights on Saturday night, July 31.
While not yet a frequent site of big-time meets, Niwot's track did host a couple of unofficial, yet notable mile/1600 events during 2020's quirky track "season."
Valor Christian's Cole Sprout notched a 4:07 1600m in April, dipping well under Rich Martinez's state record at the time of 4:10.98.
And then in August, On Athletics Club's Ollie Hoare (3:56.8) and Joe Klecker (3:58.4) torched Colorado's first and only sub-4 miles* in an intrasquad time trial.
(* Sub-4 miles were previously recorded for downhill road miles in Colorado, but never before, or since, on the track.)
Race director Todd Straka is currently gathering a hungry Elite men's field to chase a share of the $1,000 purse, PRs, bragging rights, and, just maybe, a still-rare sub-4 Colorado mile.
The Elite women will chase their own $1,000 prize purse (thank you, High Plains Bank!), the glory of a midsummer PR, and-what's the equivalent barrier for women in Colorado? Sub-4:30 seems about right if we're just looking at history. Emma Coburn, who occasionally trains on Niwot's track, established the current Colorado state record last June with a 4:32.72 performance at the Team Boss Colorado Mile in Grand Junction.
Note: We don't expect to see 2021 Olympians Coburn, Klecker, and Hoare at the Mile High Mile (MHM) this year as they have something going on in Tokyo.
In the spring, meets are increasingly encouraging fans to rock the boat on the infield. The Mile High Mile tradition is to crowd the track! Fans flood the outside lanes, buoy the racers with their own energy, and bring the noise with cowbells and raised voices.
The MHM aims for one half serious racing, one third social gathering, and one third celebration of all things running (somebody check my math). There will be music, grilling, and sponsor tents.
Bring a blanket or lawn chair and find a spot on the grass to enjoy the show. There's limited seating in the bleachers along the backstretch as well.
As the runners who train regularly at Niwot's track will tell you, all athletes will enjoy the adjacent grass fields and soft gravel paths for warm-ups and cool-downs.
The high-energy MHM isn't just for Elite athletes and spectators (but they're both strongly encouraged to participate/attend!). There's a race for everyone:
Shoes & Brews Middle School Mile
Shoes & Brews High School Mile
Elite Men's Mile
Elite Women's Mile
The littles get their chance to shine with only their peers sharing the track in the Youth Mile. All Youth milers will receive an award.
The first 100 Middle School or High School athletes to register will each receive a copy of Jay Johnson's Consistency is Key: 15 Ways to Unlock Your Potential as a High School Runner.
And Longmont's Shoes & Brews will award retail gift cards to the first three athletes in each of the Girl's and Boy's Middle School and High School Miles.
The Open Miles will feature as many sections as necessary to serve the masses looking for a fresh new PR or just trying to keep up with the Joneses (Dani, Steve, etc.).
Top Masters Milers take the track next in their undercard role, hoping to challenge the Elites for a share of the under-the-lights accolades.
Expect more fun details to emerge as race day nears!