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Could Current Presidential Candidates Break 10 Minutes in the Mile?

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Six candidates are still running for President, but which one would be the best runner?

Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

With both the U.S. and NCAA Indoor Championships ready to start tonight, running Twitter wasn't exactly lacking for excitement and activity. So, of course, Reebok had to ask us to debate which presidential candidate(s) could run a 10-minute mile. Because there's just not enough to cover with only two major championships this weekend, this question deserves discussion. Let's examine the arguments for and against each candidates chances at breaking the 10-minute barrier.

Donald Trump

Case For: To assert that Donald Trump cannot run a 10-minute mile is to fly in the face of certified medical testimony. While running ability was not a focus of Dr. Harold Bornstein's undoubtedly thorough assessment, it doesn't seem much of a stretch to expect the healthiest president of all time to easily handle a 10-minute mile.

Case Against: Like all presidential candidates, age is not on Donald Trump's side. He's 69 years old, which puts him well past his physical peak. With no readily available evidence that he has been in any way training to improve his running-specific fitness, it's hard to get too optimistic about his chances. Plus, one cannot argue with the veracity of this statement:

Verdict: Cannot run a 10-minute mile.

Ted Cruz

Case For: At 45 years old, Cruz is the second-youngest presidential candidate, which, so long as we are not employing some manner of age-score adjustment to the 10-minute criterion, provides a huge advantage as the decline in speed between the ages of 40 and 75--where our competitors reside--is steep.

Case Against: While acknowledging that fitness comes in a variety of shapes, we are forced to paint with a broad brush in debates like these because we are working off of very limited information. If I'm forced to pick one of the two 40-something candidates without any reliable insight into their fitness routines, I'm not going to pick Cruz over his slimmer counterpart, Marco Rubio.

Marco Rubio

Case For: Like Cruz, Rubio is in his mid-forties. In fact, Rubio is nearly half a year younger than Cruz. That's a small advantage but an advantage nonetheless. The "eye test" reveals Rubio as one of the favorites to do this. This calculator places a 10-minute mile in the 40th percentile for a man his age. It seems reasonable to speculate that Rubio is capable of that.

Case Against: As Donald Trump never hesitates to point out, Rubio never wins. While Trump is talking primarily about his performance in primary elections and caucuses, Rubio's apparent lack of a "clutch gene" could derail him over the final 200-400m of his sub-10-minute bid.

John Kasich

Case For: It is difficult to imagine a compelling case for John Kasich.

Case Against: In debates, Kasich looks uncomfortable in the simple act of standing behind a podium, which makes it hard to extrapolate from that to envision his running with any sort of speed or grace necessary for a 63 year-old man to break 10 minutes.

Hillary Clinton

Case For: Her husband, Bill Clinton, was famous for his commitment to running while he held the office of President. I'm not privy to any reports that Hillary has a history of joining Bill on his runs, but it is certainly possible that she shares Bill's commitment to fitness and an active lifestyle. Further, if any woman is capable of overcoming the disadvantage her gender gives her in this challenge, Hillary is that woman.

Case Against: As a woman in her late sixties, Hillary has both age and gender working against her when it comes to competing to reach an unadjusted fitness benchmark. Without much data on the running backgrounds of any of these candidates, we are forced to go off a combination of pure speculation and broad demographic data. Simply put, the odds are against a 68 year old woman running a 10-minute mile.

Bernie Sanders

Case For: Bernie is the only candidate with a documented record of running achievement, having run 4:37 for the mile in high school and 15:18 at Van Cortland Park. We also have recent video evidence of him running to catch a train.

That is certainly not the most graceful performance and his form looks a little stiff, but we do have to account for a) the lack of adequate warm-up and b) the fact that he's wearing a suit. Talent never goes away, and Sanders is the only candidate with a track record of running talent.

Case Against: At 74 years old, Sanders is the oldest presidential candidate by a considerable margin. That is a YUGE barrier to overcome. Furthermore, beside that seven-second video, there is no evidence that Sanders has been training in recent years or decades to maintain his fitness.


While I'm tempted to bet on the talent of Bernie Sanders, his age and lack of recent performance raises some red flags. Rubio, despite his documented status as a bit of a choke artist in elections, has age and physique on his side. No other candidates have any apparent argument for their ability to break 10--aside from the medical testimony of Donald Trump's specialist--unless they are putting in treadmill time in a basement somewhere away from the cameras.

The safe and prudent conclusion, then, is to say that none of the remaining candidates would be able to run a 10-minute mile. If forced to pick one, I'd have Bernie Sanders running an evenly paced effort that sees him overtaking a dying Marco Rubio in the final stretch to run 9:59.