Tag Archives: Track and Field

Can a sub-three-minute mile ever be accomplished?

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During the mid-twentieth century, running a mile in under four minutes was considered physically impossible. Experts in this matter concluded the human body was not capable of going this fast for 1600 meters.

That was until British athlete Roger Bannister shocked the world on May 6, 1954 with a  3:59.4 mile time, breaking what was said to be an “unbreakable barrier.”

Since then, Bannister’s time has been significantly lowered, and over 1,400 male athletes have broken the four-minute mile barrier. As of now, the mile record currently stands at 3:43.13, set by Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco on July 7th, 1999.

Hicham El Guerrouj sets the World Record in the mile.

Physicians believe this record can be further reduced in upcoming years, maybe even breaking the 3:30 mark, but the question I’m evaluating could take centuries to be accomplished, maybe even a millennium: will humans ever run a mile in under three minutes?

At the 2009 IAAF World Championships, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt shattered his previous 100m world record with an astounding time of 9:58. If Bolt could keep that pace over 1600m, it would translate to around 2 minutes and 33 seconds.

Although this makes the future of running a sub-three-minute-mile hopeful, no one could sustain that pace for a mile. In 800 m, Bolt’s person record is 2.07, meaning he would most likely not be able to run a sub-4-minute mile.

To deduce the possibility that someone could ever run a mile in under three minutes, you would have to consider things such as VO₂ max, genetics, as well as performance-enhancing drugs.

Although anyone can improve their speed and endurance through vigorous training, many world class athletes are born with the right genetics which allows them to perform so well in a race.

For example, having more fast-twitch muscles would genetically make someone more suited to be a sprinter, while having more slow-twitch muscles would genetically make someone more suited to be a long-distance runner. The balance of these fast to slow twitch muscles is also very important, and can determine your success as a runner.

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VO₂ max is the maximum amount of oxygen a person can utilize during an intense workout. It also determines how much oxygenated blood your heart can pump. VO₂ max is strongly influenced by genetics and heredity, but it can be increased through high-intensity training.

A higher VO₂ max allows your body you take in more oxygen and deliver it do your muscles, which can improve the efficiency of your running, and help you sustain a faster running speed for a longer amount of time.

One more thing to consider in the future of breaking the 3-minute-mile barrier is performance-enhancing drugs. PEDs can enhance our genetic capabilities, and control the issues that affect us when running.

For example, EPO (Erythropoietin) improves oxygen delivery to the muscles by stimulating the production of red blood cells, which in turn increases an athlete’s endurance.

Another commonly used drug is insulin. Insulin improves an athlete’s stamina by loading the muscles with glycogen, which fuels your body to run efficiently.

Even though these substances are banned in competitive running, they could potentially shave off crucial seconds in an athletes’ race, steering us closer to a sub-3-minute mile.

Although genetics and performance-enhancing drugs will play a huge part in the future of a sub-3-minute mile, the human mind will ultimately determine whether this feat can ever be accomplished.

Why run a mile at such a fast pace when there is no need to?

This question can be easily answered from looking at ourselves. It’s in our nature to be the best at what we do, and it’s the reason why records are still being beaten today.

Take the 4-minute mile for example. Many years ago, scientists believed it was impossible to break the 4-minute barrier. Now, Hicham El Guerrouj currently has the mile record with a time of 3:43.13.

In the end, it will come down to our motivation to run this fast, and our determination of breaking the sub-3-minute mile barrier.

Kyle Shao is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Previewing the Outdoor Track Season

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Andrew Brinker leading off the 4×8. St. Joe set a school record in this race.

The Mount Saint Joseph Gaels are looking to bring the trophy back home the spring. Under new head coach Kyle Reagan, the Gaels competed very well this past indoor season, finishing second place behind Gilman. Throughout the season, many challenges were faced, but they always found a way. Saint Joe also brought eight athletes to compete at the Armory in New York City this past winter. Many athletes step up when needed and it will only carry on to the outdoor season.

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Juan Mendoza participates in the long jump under the watchful eye of Coach Reagan.

In the sprints and jumps, senior Juan Mendoza led the charge. His consistent performances through his dashes and jumps was key to the Gaels’ hard fought battle during championships. He will be a key asset this spring if the Gaels want a shot at bringing the title back home this May.

For the hurdles, the junior combo of Kahri Barfield and Mekhi Nixon took over the MIAA. Barfield took first place and Nixon took third at indoor championships. This dynamic duo brought home a load of points at championships, and hope to repeat what they did during indoor this spring.

The distance crew for Saint Joe is looking solid. Many of the distance runners had a short indoor season due to the long cross country season they had, but made the most of it. The 4X800 team broke the indoor school record this year and looks to do the same for outdoor. For the 3200, the group is led by senior Ryan Hockstra, followed by juniors Gabe Antone and David Trider. In the 1600 and 800, Andrew Brinker will compete in his fourth season of outdoor track looking to do some damage. Last but not least, there is Joey Zietowski who ran some quick times during the indoor season in the 800 will be leading the mid distance group.

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Hunter Petrik leading the 800 meter. Petrik also set a school record in the individual 800 meter.

Saint Joe’s ole reliable this year has been senior Hunter Petrik who ran everything from the 400 to the 3200. The senior broke the 800 meter indoor record for the school. He also anchored the 4X800 team that broke the school record. To go on top of this, he also lowered the 3200 meter record which he already owned. Petrik was striving for the 1600 meter record, but ran the full mile (1609 meters) at New Balance Nationals at the Armory in New York. Hunter ran a wicked fast time of 4:21 for the mile at nationals and represented Saint Joe well. Petrik announced in late February his acceptance to the United States Naval Academy, where he will further his education and running career.

The Gaels have a lot of talent and assets from indoor that will aid them this season. The seniors with experience hopefully can pave the way for the younger generation. The athletes mentioned in this article are only a part of the team effort that comes together during every meet. All in all, if the Gaels want to bring that trophy home it will have to be a team effort on both days of championships later this spring in May.

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Dallas Ector prepares for the pole vault.