Runner: Tarrant County student clocks rare sub-4-minute mile

Southlake Carroll senior Reed Brown stands in front of the clock on Thursday, June 1, in St. Louis after becoming the 10th high school competitor in the nation and the first in Texas to run the mile under four minutes. A day later, Brown graduated from Southlake Carroll.

Photo by Southlake Carroll track coach Justin Leonard.

Fastest high school 1-mile runners

1. Alan Webb, 3:53.43 in 2001

2. Jim Ryun, 3:55.3 in 1965

3. Drew Hunter, 3:57.81 in 2016

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4. Reed Brown, of Southlake Carroll, 3:59.30 in 2017

It’s 7 a.m. on Wednesday morning at Ben Jones Park in Southlake, less than a week after Reed Brown became the nation’s 10th high school athlete ever to run the mile in under 4 minutes.

Brown is among a group of teenagers congregating to practice distance running on a grassy field in the early morning sunlight.

On June 1, Brown ran the fourth-fastest mile ever for a high school track competitor when he turned in a time of 3 minutes, 59.3 seconds while running against pro and college athletes in an invitational competition called the Festival of Miles in St. Louis.

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“It was definitely a big relief after having worked hard for all of these four years pretty much just for this goal,” Brown said as he prepared for his next race. “It was a big sigh of relief once I crossed that finish line. I could tell once I crossed that finish line that I had gotten it. It was definitely very reassuring.”

Brown posted that time the night before he graduated from high school. The morning after the Saint Louis feat, he boarded an early flight home and went straight to graduation practice. He received his high school diploma from Southlake Carroll during a Friday night graduation ceremony.

“It was a great way to close out my senior year with everything coming to a close at one time,” Brown said.

Brown said he began running in the 7th grade, but began taking it very seriously during his sophomore year when he saw that he was rapidly improving and was good at it.

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Brown’s advice for a beginning runner with the same type of goal?

“Just keep on working,” he said. “It might seem a little far-fetched. As long as you put the work in and practice as hard as you can, anything is possible.”

Brown’s dreams became real when he made his historic run on June 1 in St. Louis. For four laps, he both paced himself and sprinted.

“The first 800 meters, I got out a little slower than I wanted to. I was kind of boxed out in the back,” Brown said. “But at that point, I started moving up in the pack. At the last lap, I started sprinting from there. I knew I had to run a fast time to get it [under 4 minutes] and so I ran as fast as I could.”

Brown ran his last lap in 56.8 seconds.

“It was definitely a very painful 56:8,” he said. “I usually go faster on the last 200 that I do the first 200 of the last lap, but I did just the opposite after going so fast on that first 200. So, it was definitely very painful.”

Brown pushed himself to the max to cross the finish line. But he also had presence of mind as he ran that last lap.

“I knew it was close,” he said. “I had to count it down in my head.”

What does it feel like to make that type of run?

“Your body feels like it’s just about to give out,” Brown said. “You just feel like you don’t have too much longer, so you have to push it all and give it all until the finish.”

Brown is part of a family of six children (four boys and two girls) who are athletes. His brother Kris was a place kicker for the Houston Texans in the 2000s and was an NFL first team All Pro player in 2007. Drew Brown, another brother, is a place kicker for University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“Reed has talent beyond what most people can fathom, but he doesn’t just rest on that talent,” Kris Brown said. “He just continues to work and work. That’s why he’s had the accomplishments that he’s had over the past five or six years that culminated with that run” on June 1.

Reed Brown is successful because he’s goal-oriented and he listens to his coach’s advice, other family member say.

Terri Brown, Reed’s mother, said, “He’s very goal-driven and very driven and focused when he decides he’s going to do something. He works closely with his high school coach. His coach put together a training program and, basically, I don’t think he’s ever varied off of it. If he was supposed to run so much every day or so much every week, he always did that regardless of what was going on or where we were. That was always his top priority.”

Reed’s father, Hobert, said, “He does exactly what his coach tells him. For example, we were in New York for an indoor track meet and we wanted to go and walk around downtown. But he says, ‘Nope. I can’t do that. I’ve got to stay off of my feet. Coach says I shouldn’t be on my feet a lot.’”

Brown is coached by Justin Leonard at Southlake Carroll.

“He’s just a great kid and an extremely hard worker,” Leonard said of Brown. “He has an extremely high work ethic and a high tolerance for pain. But he’s also extremely talented. When you have a high work ethic and talent, it’s a tough combination to beat.”

Under Leonard’s supervision, Brown runs about 70 miles a week. He runs every day, twice a day. One of those runs might be 4 miles and the other one 6 miles. Then, there are longer runs.

When he ran the mile in under 4 minutes, Brown joined an elite club. Jim Ryun, who attended East High School in Wichita, Kansas, was the first high school athlete to run a mile in under 4 minutes when he accomplished the feat in 1964 as a junior with a time of 3:59. His time of 3:55.3 in 1965 was a high school record that stood for 36 years.

In 2001, Alan Webb, who attended South Lakes High School in Reston, Virginia, broke Ryun’s record when he ran a mile in 3:53.43 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon. Webb’s record still stands.

Last year, Drew Hunter, who attended Loudoun Valley High School in Purcellville, Virginia, ran the mile in 3:57.81 at a meet in New York. He is the third-fastest of all time.

Brown, who has signed with the University of Oregon to run track, is the first Texas high school athlete to run a mile under 4 minutes.

As Brown has become successful, he’s had a chance to meet Webb and a couple of other high school athletes who have broken the 4-minute barrier.

“It gave me a little motivation,” Brown said. “There’s something about seeing them in the flesh and in real life that was different than watching them online. It just seems more realistic. It was great to see how they did it and what they’re doing now. You kind of put yourself in their place. ”