NCAA All-American runner Whittni Orton of Brigham Young University (BYU) broke the women’s basketball mile world record on Friday in a time of 4:58.56. With the run, she became the first woman to post a sub-five-minute result for the event, and she beat the previous record of 5:08.57, which was set by American high school national champion Sydney Masciarelli in July. Orton won three state championships as a high school basketball player in Utah, and she added another four individual state titles to her resume on the track. She ultimately decided to pursue her running career at the collegiate level, but the basketball mile gave her the unique opportunity to combine her two passions for a pretty cool world record.
The basketball mile
Just over a year ago in August 2019, U.S. Olympian Nick Symmonds ran a basketball mile for a YouTube video. He ran 5:29, which was the world record at the time, and since then, the mark has been lowered on multiple occasions. University of North Carolina track coach Dylan Sorensen broke the men’s record in May with a 4:37, only to have it snatched away from him a couple of months later when Canadian high schooler Tennessee Tremain of Guelph, Ont., ran a 4:33.9.
On the women’s side of the record, the time has been lowered significantly with the past few runs. Masciarelli ran her record just a couple of weeks after U.S. world championship 1,500m runner Lauren Johnson posted a 5:16.36, lowering the record by eight seconds. Now Orton has beaten the record once again, smashing it by 10 seconds. Not only is Orton now atop the women’s leaderboard for the event, but she is also the fourth-fastest basketball miler ever.
I feel like this a good time to get ahead of a story, I have lost in a game of 1 on 1 against a world record holder. I have a long list of excuses. https://t.co/bRWMmamACz
— Rory Linkletter (@ThePapaLinks) September 5, 2020
A team event
Orton ran the mile on the BYU track alongside teammate Anna Camp-Bennett, who finished just shy of Masciarelli’s record in 5:10.37 for the third-fastest women’s basketball mile result. The pair was cheered on by their fellow BYU runners. Orton and Camp-Bennett were members of the BYU women’s team that came in second place at the 2019 NCAA Cross-Country Championships, and both women were also finalists at the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, each finishing in eighth place in their respective events (Orton raced the 1,500m and Camp-Bennett ran the 800m).
The results from the basketball mile were posted on the BYU Track team’s Instagram page, and it was noted that Orton and Camp-Bennett ran their times at altitude (Provo, Utah, is 1,387m above sea level). After taking this into consideration and adjusting the times based on the altitude, Orton’s result equates to a 4:52.71 mile and Camp-Bennett’s is equal to a 5:04.28. Altitude-adjusted times aren’t viable as records, and Orton’s 4:58.56 will be the official mark to beat, but this fact makes the two results all the more impressive.