Steve Spence’s Sub-5 Minute Mile Streak Continues

Steve Spence has been competing at a high level for nearly 40 years. Photo:

The 51-year-old broke the barrier for the 38th straight year.

Barriers are meant to be broken — sometimes over and over (and over) again.

Steve Spence, a 1992 U.S. Olympian best known for winning the bronze medal in the marathon at the 1991 World Championships in Athletics, smashed the 5-minute mark for a full mile last night for the 38th straight year, running 4:51.4 at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium.

Following a crew of three pacers, the 51-year-old Spence hit the halfway mark in 2:29, and covered the penultimate circuit in 72 seconds. At the bell, with only one pacer remaining, Spence found another gear and charged home in 69 seconds to easily break the 5-minute barrier.

VIDEO ( Steve Spence Goes Sub-5 — Again!

“I’m starting to think that if I did some speed work prior to the attempt it’d be a lot easier,” Spence said in an interview on “But I was pleased with how I felt. I felt that I could definitely get it. The pace was set up perfect. We got a little quicker with each lap, which was the plan.”

Spence, the head cross-country coach and assistant track coach at Shippensburg and father to rising American distance running star Neely Spence Gracey, began his streak in 1976 as a high school freshman and has maintained it throughout his scholastic, collegiate, professional and Masters career. He said he became focused on the streak in 2009 and began documenting his attempts more seriously in recent years.

So how long will Spence’s streak continue? “I’m hoping to do it as long as I can,” he said.


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