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May 6, 2017

The Schrader Mile: No sponsors, no fanfare, no hype; just a no-frills sub-4 attempt in Austin tonight

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A grassroots meet, an alternative to the weekend’s hype

  • Meet starts Saturday, May 6th, at 6:45PM CST; elite race tentatively starts at 8:45PM CST
  • Elite field comprised of guys with 3:59-4:04 PRs, but with super compelling storylines
  • Assuming the folks at the meet get everything sorted out, you can watch the live stream, for free, at the top of this post
  • Over $1,000 prize money to the winner, with a revenue-sharing system in place to reward the pacer
  • Read more about the race’s history and this year’s first-ever elite field below

Barriers like sub-two and sub-four are arbitrary, but people love to see them broken

For all but one man in the elite section of this Saturday’s Schrader Mile, a sub-four minute performance would be his first. But that hasn’t stopped Texas high school runners from punching their ticket in droves to the event to take in the spectacle.

If we’ve learned anything this week, it’s that a highly-touted, well-publicized attempt at taking down a historic barrier, possesses the ability to enthrall audiences beyond the standard running geeks. Granted, men have been running under four minutes for the mile for half a century. But there’s still something exciting about seeing someone do it for the first time.

The fact that many of the runners vying for their first sub-four tonight have local ties should only further add to the intrigue for fans of Texas running, whether in attendance or watching the live stream.

A field on the cusp of elite status; many hungry for their first sub-four

The athletes assembled are collegiate champions from the NAIA and Division II ranks. Guys who haven’t had access to a fast, rabbited race (small schools mean small budgets, so no Stanford trips). Guys making dramatic comebacks, either to the mile, or to the track, period. If sub-four goes down, expect pure jubilation and passionate displays of joy, a far cry from high-profile races where seeing the clock read 3:5X is guaranteed.

There are likely to be late additions to the field of local guys who will ensure the pace is hot through the halfway point, but these are the main contenders.

Ricky Romero–Originally from El Paso, Romero competed collegiately for Texas A&M University-Commerce, where he was the 2016 NCAA DII national champ in the indoor 800-meters and ran 1:48.74 for the 800m and 4:06.46 for the mile.

Matt Daniels–Another Texas-native, Daniels attended Adams State, where he ran 3:59.89 for the mile and a 12-time All-American. He’s got remarkable range, having competing in the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials and is a returning Schrader 1600 champion.

Jeremy Greenwald–Greenwald’s a Georgia Tech grad, and now competes for Hudson Elite. He’s got personal bests of 1:49.97 and 4:01.87, and qualified for the two-mile at the USATF Indoor Champs in ABQ this year.

Raymond Joseph–Ran collegiately at Arkansas, where his best mark was 9:05 for the steeple. But he ran 30:58 for a challenging road 10K this month, finishing just behind two Zap Fitness guys. Guys usually run a minute faster on the track than they do at this race. And Raymond lives in his van under the I-35 overpass near downtown Austin. No joke.

Dusan Makevic–The likely pacesetter is 4:02-miler Makevic, who finished up his collegiate eligibility at the nearby University of Texas at San Antonio. He’ll take them through in 1:59 for 809m, and possibly hang on for longer.

Jackson Thomas–Running unattached, but competing still for Bacone College (a small, NAIA, American Baptist, largely Native American school in Oklahoma, Thomas last lost a race indoors in a DMR. He’s run 8:03 (closing in :56), 4:04, and 29:56 (closing the last 600 in 1:30, winning by ~18 seconds at the Kansas Relays), and has rarely raced more than a state removed from Oklahoma. If he breaks four, he’ll become (based on what we’ve researched… please let us know if we’re wrong!) the first Native American collegian to do so since Maurice Smith (Adams State grad, and as a pro, a 3:55 miler, and 1990 Bowerman Mile champion). And he recently received public acclaim from Billy Mills.

The Schrader 1600 turns 10, grows nine meters

Every May for the past nine years, Texas high school milers of all talent levels, have congregated just north of Austin, Texas, to run a fast race at what’s known as the Schrader 1600. From 4:10 boys and 4:55 girls, all the way to those looking to crack seven minutes, there’s a heat for everyone.

But this year will be a little different, with a switch to the mile distance, and the inclusion of a rag-tag group of sub-elite men set to cap off the evening’s races, in a locally hyped-up sub-four attempt.

Meet director Paras Shah is excited.

“Last year we had about 200 kids register. We’ve still got a few days to go, and we already surpassed that, and every time I refresh the registration page there are ten new entries. I think it has a lot to do with the excitement of the elite race; people want to see a sub-four minute mile.”

Shah has watched the meet grow annually from a gathering of a handful of Central Texas runners who failed to qualify for the state meet back in 2008, to an event with enough momentum to draw top local high school names, and now athletes looking for contracts.

“I don’t see any money out of this. Anything we make off ticket sales we donate to the school who’s letting us use their track. Next year I’d like to move to a county park so we can put that money back into the elite field, though.”

Setting up a cool event like this is fun for Shah, so he does it as a hobby, generally cobbling the whole thing together in the weeks preceding the race. But this year he decided to take a slightly different route.

“We tried to set up an elite women’s race as well, but we had a few scratch late in the game. So it made sense to drop it for this year, do the men’s race well, then come back next year and really put together two legitimate fields.”

For this year however, he’s gathered a field of athletes hungry for a sub-four mile–and a $1,000 payday–and a crowd of hundreds of fans eager to watch it unfold.

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