With all due respect to other distances, there are exactly three glamour events in running: The 100 meters, the mile, and the marathon.
The marathon takes months to train for, can be foiled by an injury at any point, and a miscalculation or bad luck on race day can lead to heartbreak or hours of suffering, with no chance for redemption for another few months. The 100 meters – at least for a person of my age – is likely to result in hospitalization for a lower-extremity rupture of some sort.
But the mile – the sweet, sweet mile … the Goldilocks of running … it’s not too hard, and not too soft. It’s juuuuuuuust right. For everybody.
In a running world gone mad over marathons, half-marathons and 10ks, the greatest treasure in all of running lies right under your nose and at the northern cusp of Monument Circle: The Mile.
Specifically, the Monumental Mile, which roars, jogs and walks down Meridian St. on June 1.
I was a competitive runner in high school and college, and I hopped in a few 5ks and 10k in my 20s (several decades ago). I ran a marathon while injured and sick in 2009, and took one for the team by participating in the Corporate Challenge on two occasions. Because I am built for basketball rather than running and do not as a general rule try to humiliate myself while exercising in public, I do not compete in road races per se.
But the Monumental Mile … this is an event to get excited about. And excited about it, I do get. I am obnoxious about telling everyone I know, in person and on social media, that THEY REALLY REALLY REALLY NEED TO RUN THIS RACE! Long enough to test your guts but short enough to minimize any undue suffering, it is the perfect test for any runner, regardless of fitness and ability. Around the office where I work, many staff people take part in the race. Some jog in the community event, some race in their age group, and others, like me, suddenly find their competitive fire rejuvenated in masters competition.
On the other hand, I have convinced full families to participate in the race in a strictly social capacity, including a mom and her 5-year-old and 11-year-old kids running in the community race. It was an experience that left the 5-year-old declaring that he couldn’t WAIT to run some more! “I LOVE running!” was his reaction at the finish line.
I have become an unrepentant cheerleader for the Monumental Mile, and I’ve only run it once – last year. It may well have been one of the best races I have ever run, when you measure performance (not bad) to fitness level (atrocious). With 50 meters to go, and I had to decide if I was going to go to that deep, dark place where you attempt to pull energy out of some auxiliary organ you didn’t even know existed in order to get to the finish line as fast as possible and out-kick a fellow runner.
It was fun and a little scary to “go there.” I don’t know if I will ever “go there” again, since last year reminded me what it feels like. At last in 2016, it was my idea of fun.
But fun is exactly what the race is about. You can jog. You can walk. You can race. Either way, you’re done in anywhere from 4 to 15 minutes. In. Out. Done. Go ring the PR bell, then go party, celebrating the fact that you have run the most glorious distance in all of running.
Goldilocks would be proud.
Editor's Note: To register for the Monumental Mile, click here.