Usain Bolt On Whether Or Not He Could Break Five Minutes In The Mile: “Of course! I’m not that bad.”

September 22, 2016

Earlier this summer, a message board thread on LetsRun re-ignited an old debate about whether or not Usain Bolt could break the five-minute barrier in the mile. The thread generated six pages of discussion and inspired an article in The New Yorker where LRC co-founders Robert and Weldon Johnson took opposing sides in the argument.

"A mile?!?"

“A mile?!?”

While Weldon thought Bolt could do it, Robert vehemently disagreed, stating, “Those people on the [LRC message boards] are all distance runners who have no idea what they are talking about. If [five minutes] was the over/under, I’d mortgage my nonexistent house to try to bet up to six figures he was over that.” Rojo likened expecting Bolt to be good at the mile to expecting an NFL offensive lineman to be good at playing running back and called the idea “ludicrous.”

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Well now, finally, the big man himself has commented on the debate as Bolt was asked directly in a recent interview (video embedded below) how fast he thought he’d run for a mile. At first Bolt was a bit stumped by the question as he responded, “A mile? I don’t know, I’ve run the 800 in 2:07 so I don’t know how fast I could run a mile.” However, asked specifically about the five-minute barrier, Bolt laughed at the suggestion he couldn’t break it. “Of course! Of course I can break five minutes. I’m not that bad. I’m not that bad.”

Was Bolt that confident? Was he joking? Is he not giving enough credit to how fast a five-minute mile is for a non-distance specialist? For the record, the McMillan running calculator says a 2:07.0 800 is worth 4:42.9 for the mile, but remember Bolt’s times will get relatively less competitive as he moves up in distance.

We probably will never get an official answer to our question as Bolt has already said he doesn’t even want to run the 200m anymore, so we doubt he’d be anxious to tack on another 1409m on top of that. But if he’s that confident he can do it, it’s hard to discount him.

*MB: Usain Bolt runs a 2:07 800m. Can he break 5?

Video Interview Clip With Bolt on Mile:

Full 12 minutes with Bolt w/ Tim Layden

Highlights according to Tim: