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Former Benson track star on mile crusade

A former Minnesota track champion from Benson is leading a campaign to bring the mile to competitive meets and his efforts have attracted the attention of Sports Illustrated.

Ryan Lamppa, 52, and his Bring Back the Mile campaign are featured on Page 17 of the Jan. 30 edition of Sports Illustrated.

Lamppa helped Benson place second in the 1977 Minnesota Class A track championships by winning the 100-, 220-, and 440-yard dashes, distances which are no longer run. He holds Class A state records in the 220 and 440 and his 48.1 in the 440 is the all-time state mark.

Lamppa, a co-founder of Running USA, launched the web site and has drawn support from stars such as Jim Ryun and marathoner Meb Keflezighi. According to the SI report, Lamppa would like to start a circuit of pro mile races throughout the U.S., and he also plans to start an online petition encouraging state high school leagues to replace the 1,600-meter race with the mile in championship meets.

"The 1,600 is meaningless," Lamppa is quoted in the SI story. "The mile is so simple, so basic, so American."