In front of hundreds of fans at West Anchorage High School, Kyle Merber became the first runner to produce a sub-4-minute mile on an outside track in Alaska.
Merber from New York battled a stiff wind to clock a mile time of 3 minutes, 59.36 seconds at the first of two legs of the Great Alaska Mile Series on Wednesday in Anchorage.
The second leg is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Saturday at Joe Floyd Track and Field in Kodiak.
Ben Blankenship, a 2016 Olympian, also dipped under the historic time barrier, finishing second in 3:59.67.
Colby Alexander from New York was third in 4:00.01, while Kodiak’s Trevor Dunbar was fourth in 4:02.21.
Dunbar took the lead after the rabbit — Doug Benson — peeled off the track, but was unable to hold off Merber, Blankenship and Alexander down the stretch.
Prior to Wednesday, no runner has logged a 4-minute mile outside in Alaska. In 2014, New York’s Jack Bolas recorded a 3:58.3 inside The Dome in Anchorage.
Dunbar and the six other elite runners will take aim at that record on Saturday. The National Weather Service is calling for scattered showers with a high of 51 degrees.
Dunbar, a 2009 Kodiak High School graduate and professional runner, and his father, Marcus, organized this event.
“This is something that I always wanted to do — compete in front of my hometown and hometown crowd,” Dunbar told the Daily Mirror earlier this week.
Dunbar is the only Alaskan to run a sub-4 mile. He has done it four times, with a personal-best time of 3:55.54.
Five of the seven runners in the Great Alaska Mile Series have logged mile times under 4 minutes. Leading the way is Blankenship with a 3:53.04. Merber’s PR is 3:54.57.