BYU Track Robison Invitational

BYU's Miles Batty, left, is egged on during his attempt to break a four-minute mile run at the Robison Invitational track meet Saturday, April 28, 2012, at the Clarence F. Robison Track and Field Complex at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Batty finished the event with a 4:04.53. JORDAN STEAD / Daily Herald

Miles Batty didn't live up to the hype. But he also didn't disappoint.

That's how hard and fast the line became, drawn up by a couple of fellow BYU guys for one of the school's best distance runners Saturday.

Trying to become only the second runner to ever go below a 4-minute mile on Utah soil, which would have joined Doug Padilla's flash nearly three decades ago in Provo, the Cougar senior finished in 4:04.53 despite a sturdy mark at the halfway point on Robison Track at BYU's annual spring home meet.

"I wasn't the one that really made the goal," Batty said of a public proclamation made by Padilla and distance coach Ed Eyestone. "I'm not really into chasing times, especially at altitude. But it made it fun."

Batty is a national champion who owns the school record and broke the NCAA indoor mile record during the winter trip to the Millrose Games (3:54.54). 

But doing this kinds of thing at altitude is such a different animal, like comparing a house cat to a mountain lion.

Padilla (an Olympian who also these days handles some of the meet logistics for his alma mater) even served as the starter, shooting the gun that would send Batty on his journey quickly past 21 other runners. It was a fitting tribute to the 3:57.83 he ran on May 21, 1983.

In seemingly perfect conditions, 50 degrees and sunny (though the breeze picked up, creating a head wind at times), Batty found himself off to a good start thanks to former teammate Kyle Perry, who served as the "rabbit" to give his pal a proper pace.

Batty was at about 50 seconds after one lap and two minutes flat (give or take a few tenths of a second) at the halfway mark.

Perry dropped out with 600 meters left (1 1/2 laps) but it was clear even to the untrained eye that Perry was probably going to come in late.

He ran a 5,000-meter race last week and also didn't want to taper or change his training to go for this somewhat obscure historical mark.

"I wouldn't say I'm disappointed. I would have liked to have run faster, sure," Batty said. "But for what I was trying to do, in this way, I'm happy with how I ran.

The outdoor (spring) season doesn't even include a 1,600-meter (mile) race. The goal is 1,500 meters, which is identical to the international scene.

So, in a way it was an exhibition. Though quality times could be counted as regional qualifying marks because of an ability to to do some prorated calculations.

"There was nothing to lose for anyone to participate," BYU coach Mark Robison said. "It just made for a great showcase."

He was busy watching some high jumpers as Batty made his way four times around the notoriously fast track.

Robison credited the weekend aspirations to bringing in a larger crowd, and also providing some energy that other athletes could soak in through Batty's attempt. It was a worthwhile $5 plunked down to see him navigate.

Batty had a half-lap remaining when it was clear he wouldn't reach the finish line before the countdown finished flashing on the south-side scoreboard. He would have had to run a 57-second final lap.

Still the crowd chanted "Batty, Batty!" for a little while. 

"It was great. The crowd was great," he said. "I saw with a lap to go what I needed, and just tried to go for it."

Teammate Jared Ward finished second, five seconds behind Batty.

Now comes the goals of winning another NCAA championship, and maybe even going further with times that would get him into the Olympic picture.


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