Team of 100 Women Shatter the 100 x 1 Mile Relay World Record

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There’s a somewhat trite saying that “Teamwork makes the dream work,” and whether you relish motivational memes and quotes like this or you scoff at them, there’s certainly plenty of truth in these words.

Perhaps no more demonstrative of the power of teamwork in achieving an incredible goal is the performance of 100 women, ranging from age 13 to 63, who worked together to shatter the 100 x 1-mile relay record this past weekend.

That’s right: while track relays such as the 4 x 100m, 4 x400m, and even the distance medley relay are all composed of only four runners per team, this world record involved the collaborative efforts of 100 different women runners each running 1 mile around the track.

The event took place on Saturday, June 3, 2023, at the track at Cox Stadium in San Francisco, California.

Across the 100 relay legs, the heterogeneous group of women spanning five decades in age averaged a mile pace of 5:35 to finish the 100 miles in 9:18:32.

In doing so, the team shattered the 24-year-old 100 x 1 mile relay world record, which was 9:23:39 by over five minutes.

The previous 100 x 1 mile world record was set in 1999 by the Canadian Women’s Milers Club.

The world record attempt on Saturday kicked off when runner Jeanie Kayser-Jones handed over the relay team’s baton to the first runner for the 2023 event.

Jeanie had run the first leg in San Francisco’s inaugural 100 x 1-mile relay in 1977.

Peggy Lavelle ran San Francisco’s inaugural 100 x 1 mile relay in 1977 when she was just 16 years old. 

In fact, she has participated on the team each of the four times the event has been held: 1977, 1995, 1997, and now in 2023, she ran the 100th leg of the relay.

Talk about coming full circle!

The first leg of the 100×1 miles relay was kicked off by professional runner Vanessa Fraser, who runs for the Nike Bowerman Track Club, who clocked in with a finish time of 4:58. 

Fraser then passed the baton to the relay team’s youngest racer, 13-year-old, JoJo Gregg, who ran an impressive 5:46 mile.

Not only was the race exciting to watch—as is the case when any running world record is broken—but the 100 x 1 mile relay team was also a beautiful snapshot of the diversity of runners across a 50-year age difference, various backgrounds, and different life stages.

The oldest runner on the world record-breaking relay team was Nancy Simmons, a 63-year-old-runner who still managed to eke out a 6:05 mile split.

Clearly, with an average mile pace across all 100 women clocking in at an impressive 5:48 minutes per mile, all of the 100 women are accomplished runners.

However, despite everyone being a fit and fast mile runner, some of the relay racers had never raced a mile on the track in their life whereas some were Olympic Trials qualifiers.

Many of the women that comprised the 100-mile relay team were mothers, either with young children or grandchildren, or newly in the postpartum period.

There were even some pregnant women participating in the relay race, including Sarah Swanger, who managed to run a 6:18 mile split even though she is five months pregnant.

The fastest mile split of the day was posted by runner Gillian Meeks, who is currently a Ph.D. student at UC Davis.

Meeks ran cross country and track at Harvard University, and pulled from her competitive collegiate background in the Ivy League to run a 4:53 mile.

What united the team of seemingly diverse women runners was the shared passion and joy for running and the bond that unites runners from all walks of life, speeds, backgrounds, goals, etc.

The San Francisco 100 x 1 mile relay event was organized by Shawn Sax who reportedly said that his goal for the event was not to set an unattainable record by assembling the fastest possible contingent of 100 women runners.

Rather, Shawn Sax said he wanted to assemble a relay team of 100 women capable of breaking the existing world record while being as inclusive as possible. 

Another cool feature about the relay team was not just the fact that the women were united by their passion for the sport and the desire to be part of something bigger than themselves, but also the fact that every woman on the relay team had some sort of tie to San Francisco. 

As with all attempts at a Guinness World Record, the San Francisco 100×1 mile relay event had to undergo rigorous stipulations to be viable as a world-record qualifying event.  

For example, the event organizers needed to survey the track, which actually had to be widened with cones around one of the turns to make each lap a full quarter-mile rather than the standard 400-meter distance. 

Note that a full mile is 1,609 meters while four laps of a standard track works out to only 1600 meters.

Therefore, the runners had to move to the outside lanes demarcated by the cones to make up the extra distance.

There were also two video cameras that needed to record the entire race nonstop, two manual timekeepers as backups to the official electronic timing system, and pacers were not allowed in the event as with other world record-setting performances.

It typically takes about three months to verify a Guinness World Record even when all of the proper regulations are in place.

The San Francisco 100 x 1-mile relay event was co-hosted by the Nike San Francisco Women’s Miler Club and several San Francisco-based running groups, including San Francisco Road Runners, Impala Racing Team, Pamakid Runners, Dolphin South End Runners, and Olympic Club Foundation.

To tie a bow on an already feel-good running story, the event raised over $5,000 for Girls on the Run of the Bay Area. 

Girls on the Run is a nonprofit organization that helps girls and young adolescents who identify as girls build confidence, fitness, and connections by starting to run.

You can learn more about Girls on the Run and how to get involved here.

If you would also love to take part in your own relay experience as a runner, check out our guide to marathon relay teams here.

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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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