When Tennessee Tremain of Guelph, Ont., realized that his outdoor track season probably wouldn’t be happening due to COVID-19, he decided to set a new challenge for himself: break the world record for fastest mile while dribbling a basketball. After training for a few weeks and getting a handle for dribbling at such a quick pace, he made an attempt on July 18 and ran a 4:33.9 to better the previous record by three seconds. Tremain says he played basketball for seven years before getting serious about running when he got to high school, and he managed to combine the two sports for a pretty incredible result.
The mile record
Tremain says he started to think about a possible record attempt when he saw Dylan Sorensen, the previous record-holder, run a 4:37 basketball mile in May. “At the time I thought it would be fun to try,” he says. “When I realized my season wasn’t going to happen, I decided that it was an interesting goal that I could go for.” The basketball mile record has been a popular one for runners in the past 12 months. Last August, U.S. Olympian Nick Symmonds broke it with a 5:29. Shortly after his run, a collegiate runner from the U.S. named Thomas Schauerman lowered the record again, posting a 4:52. Next up was Sorensen, a track coach at the University of North Carolina. Now it’s 16-year-old Tremain’s record.
As one could probably guess, Tremain isn’t just a good runner when he has a basketball in his hands. He says he started to take the sport seriously in 2018 when he was in Grade 10, and since then, he has been a regular contender on the OFSAA circuit. That year, as a member of the Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute cross-country squad, he and his teammates won bronze at OFSAA as a team. “I’m really proud of that,” he says. “That was a big highlight for me, because I love having a fun team atmosphere. You don’t come across great teams like that too often.”
He notes that another highlight from his young career came in Grade 10 as well, this time in the spring of 2019 on the track. OFSAA was in Guelph that year, and racing in front of friends and family, Tremain ran to gold in the Junior Boys 3,000m race, posting a blazing fast 8:52.83. “Being able to do that in my home city at OFSAA with my family and friends watching, that was just such a heartwarming and great experience,” he says.
Tremain will be going into Grade 12 this fall, and while he says he’s hopeful that the cross-country season will be run, he doesn’t have high expectations. For now, he says he’s going to leave the basketball at home and focus strictly on running. He says he might try a few time trials and that he’ll keep working to improve on his form as the summer progresses. He has no plans to try for another record, but he says he has heard a lot of people expressing interest in trying to beat his time.
“If someone broke my record, I’d certainly try and get it back.”