The Dream Mile, The end of an era? by J. Stuart Weir

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Ingebrigtsen_Jacub-Pre17.JPGJakub Ingebrigtsen, Pre Classic 2017, photo by PhotoRun.net

Wightman_Jake-BosOut17 copy.jpGJake Wightman, adidas Boost Boston, Somerville, photo by PhotoRun.net

The Bislett Games is one of the most inconic of athletic meetings. It was during the era of the great Ron Clarke, Australian distance runner, who, in all honesty, helped build the summer European tours in the 1960s with his 25-30 races during the summer season.

Stuart Weir wrote this piece on the Dream Mile, one of the true iconic events over the past four decades. This year, Bislett shook it up a bit, with an Under 20 Dream Mile, won by Jakub Ingebrigtsen and the DL 1,500 meters, won by Jake Wightman.

Stuart Weir wrote this piece on the mile/1500 meters races. I liked the affection for the events noted by some of the greats of the mile, Steve Cram and Seb Coe.

The end of an era?

The signature race in the Bislett Games has traditionally been the Dream Mile. If you go back to the 1980s there were epic battles among the British trio of Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram with all three winning the dream mile and setting at least one world record in the Bislett Stadium. The Dream Mile also saw 16 national records established.

The fastest ever Dream Mile in Oslo was in 1997 when Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco recorded 3:44.90. Arguably the best race was in 1979 when Seb Coe won and the first ten finishers were under the 4 minute mark. Last year Asbel Kiprop won the race for the third time in 3:51.48.

This year there is a "dream mile" in the programme but a dream mile with a difference. It is an Under 20 race, billed as the "1 Mile Men - U20 Dream Mile" with the elite men contesting the Diamond 1500 metres race.

I was wondering if this was the end of an era. Then, I happened to find myself in the hot-dog line behind Steve Cram, now a TV commentator. He was bound to know the answer. He told me that it had not been discontinued but was having a break possibly because it was so much associated with the former sponsor, Mobil. Speaking exclusively to RunBlogRun, Cram added that even in his day the Dream Mile had not taken place every year as an elite race.

Lord Seb Coe, President of the IAAF, was also in Oslo for the meet. He told me what Oslo meant to him: "It was a good stadium for me - five races and five world records! That's a pretty good strike rate. What I remember about the stadium is something that I still recognise, that it is an extraordinarily knowledgeable crowd. The history of the sport is deeply ingrained in the city. When the sun sets and the summer evening closes in a bit, you probably have the most perfect conditions for a middle distance race and I experienced that on a number of locations. The atmosphere in the stadium when they know that something is going to happen are someone is going to make an attempt on something is extraordinary".

Jakob Ingebrigtsen won this year's Under 20 Dream Mile in have 3:56.29 - a PR. He said of his performance: "This was completely crazy. I felt really strong and the crowd was awesome. It was a nice experience. At the end of the race I was strong. A nice experience".

Jake Wightman (GB) won the senior 1500 in 3:34.17 again a PR. Filip Ingebrigtsen was unable to pull off a family double, finishing fourth. Wightman, who only got his place in the race on Monday, admitted to being shocked by the win: "My race plan was to start off pretty settled because I knew if they went off hard they would come back. I am usually quite strong on the last lap so I put all my money on that - to come through on the last 300. I felt pretty good on the home straight so I just about got away with it".

His success was all the sweeter knowing that he was being watched by Steve Cram and Seb Coe. He said "I have known Steve for some time as his son went to my school, but Seb Coe is a massive, massive idol of mine. Hopefully, I impressed him tonight".

So middle distance is alive and well in Oslo, even if it is a dream 1500m rather than a dream mile.

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