On Saturday, June 3rd, 100 women set a new world record for the 100×1 mile relay. The event took place at San Francisco State Cox Stadium, and the runners completed the mile at an average pace of 5:35 each. The group broke the previous record set by the Canadian Women’s Milers Club in 1999 by more than five minutes.
Genie Kaiser-Jones, who led San Francisco’s first 100×1 mile relay in 1977, ceremoniously handed over the baton to Nike Bowerman Track Club pro runner Vanessa Fraser to start the race. Fraser ran the first leg in 4:58, passing the baton to Jojo Gregg, the youngest racer to ever run 5:46 miles at just 13 years old.
The relay featured a diverse range of women, including an age gap of 50 years. Nancy Simmons, who is 63 years old, became the oldest runner to break the 6:05 mark. The racers included Olympic qualifiers to those who had never raced a mile on the track before. Mothers, pregnant women, and postpartum women also participated in the event.
Event organizer Steven Anderson Sean Sachs had the goal of being as inclusive as possible and still breaking the record. All of the women who participated in the relay had ties to San Francisco, which has a storied history of relays. Two more attempts were made in 1995 and 1997 after the first relay in 1977.
Margie Cullen from Runners World was among the participants who ran the relay. Karen holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and is an editor for California magazine.
In addition to record-breaking times, the event raised over $5,000 for the Girls on the Run of the Bay area. The relay needed to be verified by Guinness World Records, which can take up to three months. It required an electronic timing system, two cameras, and two manual timing devices with continuous video recording of the entire race. Pacers were not allowed, and the relay was widened with a cone around the 200m turn to make each lap a quarter of a mile (most tracks in the US are 400m, so runners are 9m short of a mile).