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Whether you’re a mile specialist chasing an elusive benchmark, trying to best your long-ago times or you just like a short, fast effort, mile races present a rare and fun opportunity to go all-out against a big crowd on a closed street. Here are some of the best mile races in the U.S.
Grand Blue Mile
April 25, Des Moines, Iowa
Taking place just ahead of the famed Drake Relays track and field meet, this flat race in the heartland takes two left-hand turns before a straightaway finish. It’s a fast race, having been won in the past by some of the fastest humans: like 2016 Olympic 1500-meter gold medalist Matthew Centrowitz Jr.
Medtronic TC 1 Mile
May 11, Minneapolis
Run in the heart of Minneapolis near Gold Medal Park, this is a fast mile and often doubles as the USATF 1-mile road championship—which attracts the best mile road racers in the country among the 2,500 total participants. The point-to-point race travels through a lively part of downtown before finishing at the Hennepin Avenue Theater District.
State Street Mile
June 4, Santa Barbara, Calif.
This straight shot race runs pleasantly, gradually downhill down Santa Barbara’s scenic State Street downtown, and tends to draw a handful of sub-4 runners each year. Even though it takes place in early summer, the coastal climate tends to stay cool and provide ideal race conditions.
Macklind Avenue Mile
June 24, St. Louis
Billed as St. Louis’ fastest mile, the downhill Macklind Mile welcomes more than 1,400 runners to Macklind Avenue every June. This family-friendly event has a wave for all abilities. Walkers, strollers and even pets are welcome in the recreational wave. Then competitive and elite racers head out before the big finale: the Kids Quarter Mile Dash.
Pearl Street Mile
Aug. 9, Boulder, Colo.
This race is practically in the backyard of scores of elite runners who call Boulder home either part-time or year-round. Winding through the city’s famed Pearl Street area, this late-summer run draws a fast field—which includes the rest of the city’s famously fit and sporty population.
Fifth Avenue Mile
Sept. 2, New York City
This 20-block race southward alongside Central Park on the Upper East Side draws 6,000 runners for prime, late-summer conditions in the big city. It’s one of the few road miles that gets the TV treatment on ESPN, due to its elite field. The course is straight as an arrow, yet those fast 5,280 feet feature a sneaky mix of flatness, uphill and downhill.