Bob Day, who ran for the UCLA Bruin’s, was the 12th American to run a Sub-4 mile in 1964, but today in 1965 he became the first to run a Sub-4 mile with sub-60 seconds for each lap. He ran 3:56.4 in Bakersfield, CA.
Bob Day established himself in the history of UCLA’s track and field’s program as one of the greatest distance runners they have ever had. He was on the highly successful Jim Bush’s track team. Day set many records in multiple events during his college career. With the Bruins he would set school records in the 1,500 (3:42.1), the two-mile (8:33.0) and the 5,000 (13.44.2). His times of 3:56.4 in the mile would stand for 40 years in the Bruin record books before it was broken in 2005 by Jon Rankin. Day would also hit a 8:33 in the two-mile which also was a national record at the time. This success led the Bruins to a national championship in 1966.
Day also still holds the sophomore class record in the 1500m (3:41.04), and the freshman/sophomore (3:58.9) and junior (3:56.5) class records in the mile. Day also set a collegiate record in the two-mile (8:35.4) and indoor 2-mile (8:33.0).
After graduating, Day won the 1968 USA Track & Field Senior National crown in the 5,000m, this qualified him to go onto the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. At the Mexico City Olympic Games day ran in the third heat placing 6th running a time of 14:23.2. He missed the finals by a fraction over two seconds to Fikru Deguefu of Ethiopia. Distance running is one of the most competitive events in the Games, thus why some Olympic dreams end with a medal, and some do not.
Unfortunately, an injury forced him to retire. After his retirement Day went on to be the first Cross Country and Track and Field head coach for Beckman High School in Irvine. He began at Beckman in 2005, and won his first Pacific Coast League title in 2008.
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Day died of bladder cancer. He was 67. However, his career will never be forgotten as UCLA’s best distance runner receives the Bob Day Award and in 2002, Day was inducted into the school’s athletic Hall of Fame.
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