SARATOGA SPRINGS/SYRACUSE N.Y - Saratoga Springs High School alumni Aidan Tooker recently became the latest sub – 4 miler on Syracuse University’s track team.
In 1954 Roger Banister became the first runner to finish a mile in under four minutes, with a time of 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds. This year, Tooker made the notable achievement of running a mile in 3 minutes and 59.39 seconds.
“It was one of those reliving, ‘finally’ moments,” said Tooker. “I was very excited about it.”
Tooker fell in love with running in the fourth grade when he and his father began participating in charity 5k runs. Running was something that came naturally to Tooker, and his competitive nature drove him to start running for sport in school when he was in the seventh grade.
While running was something that Tooker took to instinctively, his small stature often had people initially doubting his capabilities. This experience is what sparks Tooker’s admiration of USA distance runner Dathan Ritzenhein.
“He’s proportionally about the same height as me – a really skinny dude,” said Tooker. “I really looked up to him because a lot of people doubted me and didn’t really give me much respect for how tiny I was. But I would watch that guy and think he was very, very good.”
While his size may have created doubt for some people, Tooker’s former coach Art Kranick, certainly was not one of them as he was the first person to tell Tooker that he has the potential to break a four-minute mile.
“I was in 7th grade at the time, and that seems like a pretty absurd thing to say to a 7th grader. But I took it to heart honestly. That was a big moment in my life."
For many, running would be their least desired aspect of fitness. But for Tooker, that certainly isn’t the case. As he's been running competitively for almost nine years, his dedication has him running nearly 365 days a year, and sometimes twice a day.
“It (running) just seems like the most raw form of competitiveness. It’s just you and your brain and whatever you had that day,” said Tooker.
Tooker ran his personal best mile time at the Boston University John Thomas Terrier Classic meet. Syracuse runs in this meet every year, and for the past two years, Tooker has been running his mile in 4 minutes and two seconds. This year, Tooker took to the track with the same attitude he does every meet.
“I just try to keep a smile on my face. Usually, if I’m having fun with it then that's all that I need to be doing,” said Tooker. “Most of the time I’ve put in weeks, months of really hard work and the hardest part when it comes to getting closer each time is keeping your head in the right place.”
The world record for the mile run was set in 1999 by Hicham El Guerrouj with a time of 3 minutes and 43.13 seconds. Tooker says that’s not a goal for him to actively pursue, but working towards one's personal best is the nature of competitive running.
“That’s probably the coolest thing about the sport, you’re always shooting to run as close to zero minutes as possible in whatever event you’re doing,” said Tooker. “I’m gonna keep competitively running for as long as possible and my mile time will hopefully come down.”