U.S. runner Johnny Gregorek ran a new blue jean mile world record on Saturday with a time of 4:06.25, beating the previous record of 4:11.80 by over five seconds. Gregorek, a member of the sub-four-minute mile club, took to a private school track in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., for the record attempt. The run was broadcast on Instagram Live, and over 1,800 people tuned in to see if Gregorek could set a new world record. The run doubled as a fundraiser for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and so far Gregorek has raised over $32,000.
Behind Bernard Lagat‘s American record of 3:49.89, Gregorek has the second-fastest indoor mile in U.S. history with a time of 3:49.98, which he ran at Boston University in 2019. He also posted his outdoor mile PB in 2019 after running a 3:52.94 at the Oslo Diamond League in Norway, and later in the season, he ran to a Pan Am Games silver medal in the 1,500m in Lima, Peru.
His indoor and outdoor mile PBs may be much faster than the 4:06.25 he ran on Saturday, and a Pan Am Games medal is much more glamorous than running in jeans around an empty track 40 minutes north of New York City, but his world record performance still deserves some praise. Running an all-out mile in stiff denim is no joke (just think of the chafing), and Gregorek averaged 2:33 per kilometre pace over the course of his run, which is fast for someone wearing proper running gear, but running at that pace in a pair of Levi’s is even more impressive.
Mental Health Awareness Month
When Gregorek announced his record attempt, he said he was running in honour of Mental Health Awareness Month and he dedicated the run to his younger brother, Patrick, who passed away in 2019 after a long struggle with mental illness. When he first started the fundraiser for NAMI—the largest grassroots mental health organization in the U.S.—Gregorek had a goal of raising $2,500. His fundraiser is still live, and it’s currently sitting at more than $32,800 (over C$45,000). Donations can still be made on the NAMI website.