Birthday: 04/29/47Mile PR: 3:51.1 – 1967 (former world record)
Metric Mile (1500m) PR: 3:33.1 – 1967 (former WR)
High School: Wichita East HS
Hometown: Wichita, KS
College: University of Kansas ’70
Current Residence: Washington, DC
Personal website: www.ryunrunning.com
Jim Ryun, a three-time Olympian at 1500 meters, was a silver medalist at the 1968 Mexico City Games. Ryun, at age 17, was the first high school boy to break 4 minutes for the Mile (3:59.0) in 1964 at the Compton Relays (CA) and his 1965 high school Mile record of 3:55.3 lasted nearly 36 years before Alan Webb broke it at the Prefontaine Classic in 2001. Ryun also has run the most sub-4 minute Miles for a high schooler, five (5), including the first sub-4 in a high school-only race and the only to-date state meet (3:58.3 at the 1965 Kansas State Meet).
Ryun was a five-time USA champion including three Mile titles and he set outdoor world records at 880, 1966; 1500m, 1967; and Mile (twice), 1966-67. In addition, he broke the U.S. record for the outdoor Mile four times once as a high school senior, twice as a college freshman and once as a sophomore at Kansas University. His 3:51.1 U.S. Mile record lasted more than 14 years before Steve Scott broke the standard in 1981. Ryun also set the indoor Mile WR (3:56.4, tie) in 1971 (only one of 4 men to hold indoor & outdoor Mile WRs).
In 1966, the Kansas University graduate won the Sullivan Award and was Sports Illustrated’s ‘‘Sportsman of the Year”, and in 2003, ESPN.com selected Ryun as the best high school athlete ever over LeBron James and Tiger Woods. Overall, Jim Ryun has appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated seven times, the most of any track & field athlete.
In addition, he is the only American athlete to be world-ranked #1 in the 1500m / Mile in back-to-back years (1966-67).
Ryun later served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1996 to 2007, representing the 2nd District in Kansas.
In 2018, Jim Ryun was fittingly one of 30 athletes inducted into the National High School Track & Field Hall of Fame, inaugural class.
FUN FACT: Jim Ryun was the first athlete to set a Mile world record by running every lap under 60 seconds: (57.9, 57.6 [1:55.5], 59.8 [2:55.3], 56.0), clocking 3:51.3 in Berkeley, CA on July 17, 1966.
FUN FACT II: Ryun is also the last American male to hold the outdoor Mile world record, his epic 3:51.1 in Bakersfield, CA on June 23, 1967.
Photo credit: Track & Field News