May 3, 2020
With this week's guest, we shift from a legend in the hurdles to a legend in the mile as Shanna and Chris interview Jim Ryun. In 1964, Jim Ryun burst on the track scene at the age of 17 by running the first sub-4-minute mile by a high school boy. He did it after only 2 years as a runner, and then just a month later, he would earn a spot on the US Olympic team for the 1964 Tokyo Games. Of course, that was just the beginning of a storied career that included 3 Olympic Games, an Olympic Silver Medal, and 6 world records.
In this conversation, Jim talks about what led him to try cross country in the first place, a hard first practice that almost made him quit, the teammates that kept him going, and of course the turning point where he realized he might be pretty good thanks to the wisdom and foresight of his coach. He shares the stories of his first Olympic experience in Tokyo as a 17-year-old and then the come-from-behind silver medal in the 1968 Games in Mexico City, including an apology that would come later from a Kenyan competitor in the same race. He discusses his attitude toward doping including when he first became aware of others using performance enhancing drugs including rumors of blood doping involving Lasse Viren from the 1972 Games.
Beyond the accolades and the talent, Jim gives us a window into what made him the athlete he was on the track through his faith, his incredible support system, and a work ethic that was fostered by a coach that really cared. Jim was a fierce competitor on the track, but you will hear a humble and gentle spirit in this interview that will bring a smile to your face.