The mile run isn’t just for school kids anymore. The distance is making a comeback with 700 U.S. road races each year. How fast can you run 5,280 feet?
NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile
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Run down one of New York City’s most storied streets at the NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile. Like the TCS New York City Marathon and the Big Apple itself, the Fifth Avenue Mile is the largest of its kind in the U.S. with 5,610 finishers in 2014. The race, which celebrates its 35th anniversary in September 2015, sees 18 heats of athletes take Manhattan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to Grand Army Plaza alongside Central Park. Runners compete by age and gender, then stick around to cheer on the pros. Some of the fastest milers on the planet—including World Champions Jenny Simpson and Bernard Lagat—have competed for the $16,000 prize purse, then snapped selfies with fans.
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Photo: Courtesy of NYRR
Medtronic TC 1 Mile
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Make it a night at the races with the Medtronic TC 1 Mile in Minneapolis, MN. Seven waves of 2,500 runners tackle a 12-block stretch along Nicollet Mall. After your own race, hop into the finish line bleachers or head to one of five “cheers” zones offering food and drink specials along the course to watch the pros compete for a $25,000 prize purse and $10,000 course record bonus. Adult competitors get a TC 1 Mile Derby ticket connected to a pro runner like Nick Willis or Sara Hall. If your pro wins, you do too. [Click here to share these races on Twitter!]
Photo: Competitive Image courtesy of Twin Cities In Motion
Grand Blue Mile
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Over 2,300 runners race through Des Moines, IA each April at the Grand Blue Mile, created by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Drake Relays. Recreational, competitive, and championship divisions allow runners of all abilities to compete on the flat course. The 2014 race even hosted the USA 1 Mile Road Championships, where Heather Kampf and Olympic medalist Leo Manzano ran away with the titles, while regular runners raced for personal bests in the competitive field and walkers powered through the recreational race.
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Photo: Photo courtesy of Wellmark
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Start the New Year right at the Millennium Mile with a downhill course in Londonderry, NH. Don’t worry, the race doesn’t start until 2 p.m., so you can still have fun on New Year’s Eve. More than 1,600 runners faced freezing temperatures to finish in 2014, up from just 120 at the inaugural race in 2000, which was conceived to ring in the new millennium. Post-race runners are rewarded with Portland Pie Company pizza. Bring the whole family: Kids 11 and younger run for free.
Photo: Millennium Running
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Billed as St. Louis’ fastest mile, the downhill Macklind Mile presented by the Big River Running Company entices more than 1,100 runners to test their feet on Macklind Avenue in Missouri’s Gateway to the West. Walkers, strollers, and even pets are welcome in the recreational wave. Then competitive and elite racers head out before the big finale: the Kids Quarter Mile Dash. A finish-line street party follows with live music, beer, food, smoothies, and more. If that wasn’t enough, a free pre-race pasta party courtesy of Stellina Pasta kicks off the festivities the night before.
Photo: Big River Running
Platinum Performance State Street Mile
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Who let the dogs out? The Platinum Performance State Street Mile in Santa Barbara, CA culminates in the Dog Mile run and walk, the “unofficial” canine world championships. The 2014 race ended in a tie, with pups Hank Mardukes and Kadym crossing in 4:32 with their speedy owners in tow. Ruff-ly (see what we did there?) 1,000 humans ran too. The course is a fast, downhill straightaway through the heart of city.
Photo: Justine Diaz/State Street Mile
Fourth of July Downtown Mile
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Wear your stars and stripes on Independence Day to the Fourth of July Downtown Mile in Flagstaff, AZ. Prizes go to the individual and group donning the best patriotic costumes. And there’s a lot of patriotism on hand. Seven waves of runners storm Flagstaff’s parade route starting and finishing the two-loop course in Heritage Square, amongst a throng of spectators awaiting the parade. The high-altitude town at 7,000 feet is a popular training ground for America’s elite runners, including Olympians Ryan Hall and Janet Cherobon-Bawcom.
Photo: Jessica Anderson
GNC Live Well Liberty Mile
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The $25,000 in prize money brings out the pros to headline the GNC Live Well Liberty Mile, an August night of races in Pittsburgh, PA. The highlight of the night is “Play the Pros.” Runners pick their favorites to win the men’s and women’s elite fields, and then cheer them on with “Big Head” effigies. Your “Big Head” is your ticket to win if your pro is the victor. In 2014, fans who picked Jordan McNamara and 3,000-meter indoor national champion Gabriele Grunewald won a gift card to Blue Line Grill.
Photo: Pete Madia, Pittsburgh Marathon Photography
Pearl Street Mile
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The Pearl Street Mile in Boulder, CO is a summertime street party. The Bands on Bricks concert series at the Pearl Street Mall begins right after the race, complete with live music and a margarita, wine, and beer garden. Race entry includes a free beer at the festival or free ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s. Boulder is home to elite runners living a mile high in the gateway to the Rockies, like Olympian Kara Goucher, world-class marathoner Jason Hartmann, and Kauai Marathon champions Tyler McCandless and Nicole Chyr.
Photo: Downtown Boulder (DBI.org)
Indianapolis Monumental Mile
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The Indianapolis Monumental Mile in June kickstarts five months of training for the Monumental Marathon and Half Marathon in November. But the 5,280-foot race was designed with speed in mind. The flat course has no turns down Meridian Street in Indiana’s capital city. The Thursday night mile race is followed by an after party that bumps until 9 p.m. with live music, food, and beer. If one mile’s not enough, try the Monumental Triple Mile Trial and run in each of the open, masters, and elite waves. The overall combined winners take home prizes. Just seven of the 600 runners finished the Triple Mile Trial at the inaugural race in 2014.
Photo: Courtesy of Indianapolis Monumental Marathon