Nation’s top milers join elite few to break sub-4 mile in Alaska
Alaska’s Trevor Dunbar has already done what no other Alaskan has before him – break the 4-minute mile. But what he really wants is to be the first Alaskan to do that on his own turf. He’s going to have to keep trying.
The elite runner and University of Oregon graduate attempted to become the first person to break the four-minute mile on an outdoor track (in 2013, East Coast mile specialist Jack Bolas came to Alaska and ran a 3:58.3 in the Anchorage Dome) on Wednesday night amid a crowd that numbered close to 1,000 – a packed house by Alaska standards.
The conditions were tough, with gusty winds that created a massive headwind in the home stretch. But Dunbar was not shy, pushing the pace and even holding the lead for most of the third lap, which on a windy day is not ideal. Still, he knew it needed to be done if the race was going to hit the mark.
In the end, two runners – Hoka One One’s Kyle Merber and OTC Elite’s Ben Blankenship slipped in at just under 4—3:59.36 for Merber and 3:59.67 for Blankenship. Dunbar came in fourth, well off his personal best of 3:55.54 he ran back in June. This now makes three pro runners to crack the sub-4 figure in Alaska, yet a spot still remains for the first Alaskan to do it.
No matter, the event was one for the record books. Anchorage’s West High School was teeming with high-school runners, motivated by the show of professional talent they never get to see here. Spectators cheered loudly and enthusiastically, despite the blustery wind and cold temperatures. If you were a sports fan in Alaska, you likely were there to see the display of talent.
The event is part of the Great Alaska Mile Series and is being held in honor of 31-year-old David Torrence, a professional miler who was found dead in a pool in Arizona a month ago. The investigation into his untimely death continues, but for those like Dunbar, who raced alongside Torrence countless times, the loss is real and painful. The race announcer at Wednesday’s event held a moment of silence and read from a tribute Dunbar wrote. For that one small moment, the crowd was silent, not a noise to be heard, as the sadness of a Torrence’s death sunk in.
Dunbar has one more chance to reach his goal on Saturday (Sept. 16), in his hometown of Kodiak. The Great Alaska Mile Series will conclude with another shot at the sub-4 mark with racing beginning at 1:15 p.m. It would be so sweet if he could capture that goal – especially on his home turf.
Participating runners and their current PRs, include Trevor Dunbar (3:55.54), Ben Blankenship (3:53.04), Colby Alexander (3:54.94), Doug Benson (4:05.78), Nick Harris (4:01.50), Kyle Merber (3:54.57), Hans Roelle, also from Alaska (4:06.05) and Garrett Heath (3:53.13)