On May 27th, a select group of University of Oregon runners were honored at the Sub Four Reunion, hosted by the Oregon Track Club. The sold out event at the John E. Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes was filled with UO alumni, past and current UO coaches, and running enthusiasts. The event honored the 10 surviving runners who ran a mile in less than 4 minutes under coach Bill Bowerman. Coinciding with The Prefontaine Classic, the reunion duly recognized Steve Prefontaine as the 11th UO runner to break the 4-minute barrier in 1970.
As the Thomas Intern Film Archives Assistant for the University of Oregon Special Collection and University Archives, I’ve been working on the identification, preservation and digitization of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics Films collection. When I heard about this reunion a few months ago, I became curious about track and field films in this collection. With nearly 4,000 films, over 2.5 million feet of film, and 8 decades of University of Oregon athletic heritage, I hoped to locate some suitable material. To my surprise and joy, I successfully discovered footage of two of the sub-four minute mile moments. First, the unabridged film of Jim Bailey running the first sub-four minute mile in the United Stated in 1956, and second, clips of Dyrol Burleson breaking the four minute barrier at Hayward Field in 1960.
With the help of my colleagues, Elizabeth Peterson (Humanities Librarian and Curator of Moving Images) and Jennifer O’Neal (Corrigan Solari University Historian and Archivist), we were able to digitize the footage and offer a clip reel to the reunion organizer, Todd Bosworth. In addition to the films, the clip reel includes photographs of the runners located by University of Oregon graduate research assistant, Zach Bigalke. Many thanks to University of Oregon undergraduate student, Joe Hughes, for producing such a captivating clip reel. As a third generation UO alumni, it was an honor to attend the event to celebrate fellow Ducks and their accomplishments.
List of reunion honorees and the time and date of their first sub-4 minute mile:
Jim Bailey 3:58:6 (May 5, 1956)
Dyrol Burleson 3:58:6 (April 23, 1960)
Jim Grelle 3:59:9 (April 28, 1962)
Keith Forman 3:58:3 (May 26, 1962)
Archie San Romani 3:57:6 (June 5, 1964)
Wade Bell 3:59:8 (June 2, 1966)
Roscoe Divine 3:59:1 (June 2, 1966)
Arne Kvalheim 3:59:4 (May 6, 1967)
Dave Wilborn 3:56:2 (June 23, 1967)
Steve Savage 3:59:2 (June 5, 1970)
Event media coverage:
–Lauren Goss, Thomas Intern Film Archives Assistant