Hi, I’m Dave Grant and welcome to the Up To Speed column. Let’s get right to it, shall we?
Every Friday, I’ll be posting a new video. Not the usual videos I’m known to post on the internet, those would get most of you fired at work. These will be running videos – some famous, some obscure – to get you pumped up for your weekend races or workouts.
This week’s video is from a mile race on July 7th, 1999 in Rome. It features a spectacular finish between Hicham El Guerrouj and Noah Ngeny. Until the more recent exploits of Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele, El Guerrouj was in the discussion as the greatest distance runner ever, having won four 1500m world championships and the 1500m/5000m double at the Athens Olympics. This race was somewhat of a coming out party for Noah Ngeny, who two months later would set the still-standing 1km world record (2:11.96!!!) and a new Olympic 1500m record in a stunning upset of El Guerrouj at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Three things are remarkable about this race.
1. Before the start, the mile world record belonged to Noureddine Morceli and had been standing since 1993… a six year drought.
2. The world record would be broken by not one but two men… the first time in over 40 years that two men racing each other would both break the existing world record.
3. The world record set in this 1999 race still stands… making it the longest the mile record has ever gone unbroken.