The mile is the perfect challenge between speed and endurance. If you're a marathon runner, it's the ideal chance to get your team-sport and gym junky friends to toe the line with you in a running race. And if you're new to running, it's a great way to learn to run fast, before you run long.
We caught up with Amba Hotels City of London Mile race director, James Ruskin, to delve deeper into the intricacies and mysteries of this magic distance.
What for you is special about the mile?
The mile is a classic distance, and one with a significant history, especially here in the UK. The mile run was born in England and its roots go back as far as the 18th century, so it seems apt to be holding our event in the historic City of London and on some of its oldest streets.
Last year was the 60th anniversary of Roger Bannister’s legendary sub-four minute mile, and this summer marks the 30th anniversary of Steve Cram’s world record over the same distance. These days lots of people have run a parkrun and lots of people have run a marathon. Yet surprisingly few have raced over a single mile. Those who have will tell you that it definitely reaches the parts that other races can’t reach!
Finally, the mile remains the only imperial distance with a world record recognised by the IAAF—all the others are metric. In short, the mile is a special distance.
If I'm just a plodding jogger, will I still enjoy racing such a short race?
Yes, very definitely. Plenty of people jogged it last year—some even walked it—and had a great time doing so.
It matters a great deal to us that the event is as inclusive as possible, so there’s no need to ‘race’ it unless you feel the need. It is a short race—but that’s the beauty of it.
Last year, our youngest competitor was three and our eldest was 78. And if you’re running a mile for the first time, you are of course guaranteed a PB!
What do you love about the course?
Lots of things: starting and finishing in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral, the landmarks passed along the way like Mansion House and Guildhall, and the fact that it incorporates part of the marathon route from the London 2012 Olympic Games.
What’s more, there are some really good viewpoints for spectators, especially on the corners, and plenty of opportunities to do some shopping or sight-seeing on the day too. More generally, simply being able to run on closed roads in the heart of the City is a privilege—on any other day of the year that would be unthinkable.
The free entry is totally awesome, but why when most races these days require you to re-mortgage your house?
We’re able to make the race free to enter because we have a fantastic sponsor on board: Amba Hotels. They supported last year’s event, which was a resounding success, and following that they’ve now committed to supporting the event for the next three years. That represents an endorsement of the race we’re very proud of.
As a lot of runners will be aware, the cost of entering a lot of races these days (even short ones) has become prohibitive, and that’s not really what we’re about. Amba’s team are also great to work with and are busy developing some exciting ideas for this year’s race!
The Amba Hotels City of London Mile is each year in mid June. Be sure to toe the start line with your buddies this year.
Photos: Ian Campbell / IPC Consultants
AMBA HOTELS CITY OF LONDON MILE COURSE