It was in Berkeley, California on June 5th in 1971 when Francie Larrieu beat Doris Brown’s U.S. Mile record at 4:41.5 with the previous record set at 4:42.2. However, this record would not last long as only one day after Doris Brown would retain her place as the best of the best taking U.S. Mile record back running 4:41. in her home town of Tacoma, Washington. With that being said, one day would be the shortest span to hold a U.S. Mile record.
David Eskenazi Collection
Only six days after Doris Brown proved her place as the best, retook her own U.S. record running 4:39.6 in Portland, Oregon.
Five years previous, Doris Brown became the first woman to run a sub-5 minute mile indoors, clocking 4:52. In 1966, Doris Brown was competing for the Falcon Track Club. The video below is Doris Brown’s victory thanks to Seattle Pacific University.
The next year in 1967, she went on to win the International Cross Country Championships running 14:28 for the 3k race (1.9 miles). After her 1967 victory she went onto win again in 1968 running 15:00 flat as the course was extended longer to a 4.5k race (2.8 miles).
Not only was she a repeat champ, she would win yet again in 1969 running 14:46. Again, the course had been changed, only this shortened to a 4k race (2.5 miles). At the 1970 International Cross Country Championships, she was again the victor running 15:04 for the 4k course.
As the 1971 International Cross Country Championships rolled around, the course had been changed back to a 4.5k race (2.8 miles). This is where Doris Brown, again, took the “W” running 11:08.4. This is an incredible feat for athlete as well as woman’s running history.
Not only was she a cross country legend, she was also a sprinting queen as she took silver at the Pan Americans Games in 1967 and 1971 for the 800 meter event. Doris went to run a 2:02.9 in 1967 and 205.9 in 1971.
Not only is she known by victories in the International Cross Country Championships and both of her Pan American Games Silvers, she also competed in the 1968 and 1972 Summer Olympic Games, in Mexico City, Mexico, and Munich, Germany.
She ended her vast career by at point holding every women’s national and world record from 440 yards up through one mile and in 1976, she won the Vancouver International Marathon and placed second in the New York City Marathon.
She then went on to coach track and cross country at Seattle Pacific University for four decades. In 1999, she was the second female to be inducted into U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame and was inducted into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame in 2002. True legend in woman’s running and a role model for all.
Running is a road to self-awareness and reliance-you can push yourself to extremes and learn the harsh reality of your physical and mental limitations or coast quietly down a solitary path watching the earth spin beneath your feet.
–Doris Brown Heritage
U.S. Woman’s Mile Record Progression (USATF)
4:51.1 Doris Brown Victoria, CAN August 19, 1967
4:42.2 Doris Brown Seattle, WA June 8, 1968
4:41.5 Francie Larrieu Berkeley, CA June 5, 1971 – shortest span to hold U.S. Mile record = 1 day
4:41.3 Doris Brown Tacoma, WA June 6, 1971
4:39.6 Doris Brown Portland, OR June 12, 1971
4:38.7 Francie Larrieu Bakersfield, CA May 19, 1973
4:37.88 Francie Larrieu Austin, TX April 12, 1974
4:33.1 Francie Larrieu Eugene, OR June 8, 1974
4:31.69 Francie Larrieu Wichita, KS May 31, 1975
4:30.98 Jan Merrill West Point, NY May 14, 1977
4:28.2 Francie Larrieu Mainz, GER June 28, 1977
4:23.49 Mary Decker Philadelphia, PA June 30, 1979, last on U.S. soil (outdoor)
4:21.68* Mary Decker Auckland, NZL January 26, 1980
4:21.46 Mary Tabb Oslo, NOR June 26, 1982
4:18.08* Mary Tabb Paris, FRA July 9, 1982
4:16.71* Mary Slaney Zürich, SUI August 21, 1985 – longest held U.S. Mile outdoor record (men or women)
*also World Record