Athlete Education: Jim Ryun

Gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated on September 14, 1964 is Jim Ryun.

Who is Jim Ryun?

Born April 29, 1947 in Wichita, Kansas, James Ronald Ryun is one of the most dominate runners to ever lace up a pair of running shoes.

At 17, he became the first high school runner to run a sub four minute mile.  The following year he set the Kansas state record for the mile at 3:55.3, a record that would stand for 36 years until it was broken in 2001.

Most impressively, Ryun still holds five of the top six fastest miles ever run by a high school athlete.  He was voted the number one high school athlete of all-time over Tiger Woods, Lebron James and Lew Alcindor (Kareem) at ESPN.com.

Ryun continued to impress as he started his collegiate career at the Univeristy of Kansas.  In 1966, Ryun set world records as a 19-year old, in the one mile and half-mile.  Because he was a freshman, he wasn’t officially running for Kansas at the time because of NCAA rules at the time.

Ryun would go on to win the silver medal in the Mexico City Summer Olympics in 1968.

In 1996 Jim Ryun was elected to the House of Representatives to represent Kansas’ Second District.  During his tenure, in 2006, he was voted the most conservative member of congress.  Ryun was defeated in 2008 after an 11-year career on Capitol Hill.

Ryun is the co-author of three books with his sons Heroes Among UsThe Courage to Run, and In Quest of Gold- The Jim Ryun Story. He currently embraces his Rock Chalk Jayhawk heritage and resides in the same town as his alma mater, Lawrence, Kansas.