1600 Meter Mile Ain't No Mile – Your Coach lied to you
Track and Field Events – 1600 Meter Mile – Your Coach lied to you
Welcome Stadium - Dayton Ohio
Track and field consists of many events that are in three categories: running, jumping, and throwing. There are three classifications of running events: sprints, middle distance, and long distance. The 1600-meter run is a running and a middle distance event. At track meets this is sometimes called the mile run. However, 1600 meters does not equal a mile. I will explain why it is called the mile run at some meets and the true distance of 1600 meters.
History of the Mile Run
Prior to 1980 the USA track and field events were measured in feet and yards. The US government started an initiative to convert to metric measurements so that we would be more in line with Europe. Some items were successful and others were not successful. In the state of Ohio, according to the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA), they still recognize the mile run and 1600 meter run as events. They also recognize the 440-yard track and the 400-meter track. On the other hand, the National Federation of State High School Associations only recognizes a 400-meter track but they measure hurdle height and weight in inches and pounds. Over the years there have been campaigns to bring back the mile run. I don’t see this happening because it is not an Olympic event and it will be cost prohibitive for many schools to restripe their tracks.
1600 Meters Equals a Mile
1600 meters does not equal a mile. But it is the closest metric measurement in round numbers to the mile. That is why people to this day use 1600 meter run and mile run interchangeably. As a unit of measurement people in the US are mostly interested in your mile time not your 1600-meter time.
One mile equals 5,280 feet; 1,760 yards; or 1,609 meters. When a person runs a 1600-meter event, their mile timing will be incorrect by about 10 yards too short.
You can use this calculation created by Pete Riegel in 1977 to convert a 1600 meter to a mile run.
T1 is the time achieved for D1.
T2 is the time predicted for D2.
D1 is the distance over which the initial time is achieved.
D2 is the distance for which the time is to be predicted.
Let’s say you just ran a six minute 1600 meter run. First convert your time to seconds (s) 6x60= 360s
= about a 6:03 mile time
The main reason the 1600 meter run is called the mile is for simplicity.