- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 27, 2007

Dave Watt, executive director of the Bethesda-based American Running Association, says he has a foamcore sign from the 2004 ARA Honors Gala signed by Don Bowden hanging on his office wall.

“He dated it June 1, 1957: 3:58.7,” Watt says.

That was the date on which Bowden became the first American to dip under four minutes for the mile. It came some three years and 25 days after Roger Bannister became the first man in the world to accomplish the landmark feat.

While running for the University of California, the former Olympian (1952 Melbourne Games) from San Jose ran his 3:58.7 at the University of the Pacific track in Stockton, Calif., 50 years ago this Friday.

A mile race continues to honor Bowden. The Don Bowden mile starts and finishes close to the original location of the track, long since torn down. A plaque near the race finish commemorates Bowden’s race.

That race 50 years ago produced, at the time, the third fastest-mile ever. While Bowden was the 12th runner to go sub-four, he gained nowhere near the fame of Bannister, just as the third man on the moon, Charles “Pete” Conrad, Jr., never became a household name like Neil Armstrong.

Bowden would set two world relay records before his running career was abruptly ended two years later in the Army when he severed his Achilles tendon while training for the 1960 Olympics.

Amazingly, his 3:58.7 stood as the meet record at the California Collegiate Challenge and best time in Cal history for nearly 50 years, until just four weeks ago when David Torrence posted a time of 3:58.62 as Bowden looked on.

Right around the time Bowden was making history, a girl was born on the other coast, in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. She would burst into the nation’s conscience at the 1979 Boston Marathon, winning that year and again in 1983, a year before her inspirational marathon victory at the Los Angeles Olympics.

How cool that Joan Benoit Samuelson turned 50 two weeks ago. She has planned her marathon retirement at the 2008 U.S. Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials in Boston on April 20. She already has the “B” qualifier of 2:46:27 from the October 2005 Twin Cities Marathon.

Another sellout The Marine Corps Marathon sold out on May 23 with 30,000 participants for the Oct. 28 event, just 14 days after registration opened.

For those runners who missed online registration, a limited number of entries remain available through the MCM charity partner program but you will have to fund raise or part with several hundred of your own dollars.

Visit the MCM “Charity Partner” page on marinemarathon.com for more information.

Give Dad a race, not flowers The Annapolis Striders have scheduled their Father’s Day 10K for June 17 at 8 a.m. at Severna Park High School (60 Robinson Road at Benfield Road). Part of the mostly flat 6.2-mile race course follows the B&A; Trial with rolling hills on the community road portion.

Register online at annapolisstriders.org or on race day. Advanced signup costs just $3 for Striders members and $4 for non-members, while all race-day entries cost just one dollar per kilometer. T-shirts will be available at a nominal cost, according to the Striders.

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