A high school senior has broken a track and field record set in 1965 by running a sub-4 minute mile during a high school race, without a pacer. Gary Martin has gotten extremely close to breaking this record during other track meets this year, but at the Pennsylvania Catholic League Championship (PCL) on Monday, he finally ran a mile in 3:57:98.
Martin, a senior at Archbishop Wood High School, has committed to attend University of Virginia after he graduates. His high school school celebrated the historic run on Twitter, writing: "Congratulations to Wood's very own Gary Martin on running his mile in 3:57:98 at the PCL Track & Field Championship!!! Gary, you have worked so hard to achieve this goal, your Viking family couldn't be prouder."
Martin said after he broke the record, "it was cool to see" others were excited for him. "You usually don't get that type of environment at a small, local meet," Martin told CBS News.
"But to have everyone going crazy over what I had just done was really cool. To my teammates coming up and hugging me, my coach hugging me, and other kids from other schools coming up and patting me on the back. It was cool," he said.
The first high school student to run a sub-4 mile was Jim Ryun in 1964. After he set the record, he did it five more times before graduating. In 1965, his best time during a high school race was a 3:58.3 mile.
His mile time wasn't beat until 2001, when high schooler Alan Webb ran a 3:53.43 mile at Nike's Prefontaine Classic. Both Ryun and Webb went on to be Olympic athletes.
While 14 high school students have run sub-4 minute miles, their races did not have the same conditions as Ryun and Martin's. Other runners competed with pacers or "rabbits" to help the keep up their speed, or their races were not high school-only.
Only five high school athletes have ran sub-4 minute miles during a high school-only competition. And before Martin, only one high school athlete did it without the help of a pacer. That was Ryun.
On Monday, Martin broke Ryun's high school record – by less than a second.
Earlier this year, Martin ran 4:01 mile at the Penn Relays, and at 4:00 mile at the Explorers Invitation.
On Twitter, Martin shared a screenshot of a text he sent his coach before the meet: "Am I crazy for thinking about trying to break 4 at PCL champs if the mile is good since the mile is first?"
His coach said he was physically ready, and he could make it a race day decision. Looks like the choice was worth it.
Martin said during the race, he could feel that he was on pace to run a sub-4 minute mile.
"I can get through the first 400 meters in about 58 seconds or so," he said. "And normally, my next laps after that are about 60 seconds or a little slower and I fall off pace a little bit... But this time, my second lap was 58.6 again. So, I knew I was well on pace and after about two laps, I was pretty confident I had it."
As for what fuels his races, Martin says he always eats the same breakfast: toasted waffles with almond butter.
He said he dreams of going to the Olympics one day, something he didn't feel like he could vocalize – until now.
"I'd like to think that it's not crazy for me to say that it's a dream now," he said. "Obviously, I'm still a long ways away and have some work to do, but I'm confident in my ability. I have the dream, now I just have to put the work in and chase it."
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