Elliott McArthur Is Driven By Achievable Goals In The Mile

* Elliott McArthur has big goals in the mile over the next few months

Photo Credit: Mary Ann Magnant/MileStat

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"This is the event I want to do for now. I want to focus on this and I want to become good. I want to be the next one." -- Elliott McArthur

By Cory Mull - MileSplit

Elliott McArthur is very aware of the time and patience it will take to reach the pinnacle of this sport.

He knows, too, that conquering the mile won't happen overnight.

But the Saint Paul Mounds View (MN) High School sophomore is keenly motivated by what is achievable in the near future, and he is driven to reach that station in track and field at some point soon. 

"If you don't work, somebody else is going to," McArthur recalled recently while readying for adidas Indoor Nationals, where he is scheduled to compete in the Championship boys mile. "I really like that saying. Because someone is always working, but you can work just as hard or harder than them at the same time and be better."

Sometimes it can be as simple as just that: Do the work. 

"I want to be the person who does that," McArthur said. "I want to catch the people off guard who aren't doing it. That's my thinking. I want to go out and prove people wrong."

But the beauty in reaching any goal is that it will change. That it's always changing. You might have to fail at least once or twice in order to succeed.


With every success comes a new test, a new time, and a new adjustment toward that personal record. What McArthur may view as his own personal pinnacle might represent something totally different for another individual. But that's OK. 

McArthur is just inches away from reaching it. He currently ranks US No. 4 in the mile nationally with a time of 4:15.34; but he is No. 2 in the sophomore class, just behind Ellicott City's Antonio Camacho-Bucks

This season, McArthur has bumped up his mileage and workouts to greater effect. Compared to a year ago, he's added roughly 15 more miles on his foundation, ranging anywhere from 45 to 50 miles a week. 

"It's helped me become aerobically more fit and made me realize what I can do with my body," he said.

The goal, right now, is to go for Mounds View's 1,600m record. McArthur's en route time from his full mile at The VA Showcase in January was 4:13.92, which is less than a second away from the school's overall top mark of 4:13.25.

McArthur has hopes of breaking that barrier this weekend in Virginia Beach. 

"I was able to get the indoor school record there by over 10 seconds," he said. "Fingers cossed that I can knock out one more." 

Ideally, though, the Minnesota teen's real prize might be going under 4:10 for the full mile.

Only four sophomores have ever accomplished that goal all-time indoors, and a total of 15 have accomplished that feat outdoors. Just this past year, Nease's Rheinhardt Harrison went 4:01.34, ushering in a whole new standard: It set a new sophomore class record and was the fastest for an American 16-year-old ever. 

McArthur, though, isn't judging himself by the accomplishments of others -- even if he was No. 1 in the nation as an eighth-grader for the mile in 4:22.40.

Over the pandemic, he said, he fully realized why running was so important in his life.

Because while there were obvious highs, like hitting a 4:18 mile in a time trial in June, there were also learning lessons -- he went to Arizona in June and ran 4:38 and 9:39 for the mile and 3,200m, respectively. 

That allowed the sophomore to understand that it's sometimes about what you take away from an experience, and not necessarily always about how you race

"I keep it realistic until I prove that I can do something like that," he said. 

It's important to keep goals measured, he said, so as though you don't overwork, overstride, or ultimately, overreach. Sure, Cooper Teare and Cole Hocker just ran 3:50 for Oregon. Sure, Harrison and Hobbs Kessler have achieved fame in recent months. But everyone matures at different paces. 

McArthur is very aware of just how important it will be to secure successes on his own timeline. 

At least he's clear on what he wants. 

"It's four laps. An even number. A perfect distance," he said of the mile. "It's great motivation to see them (Teare, Hocker and Co.). It really helps me realize. This is the event I want to do for now. I want to focus on this and I want to become good. I want to be the next one."

But what makes McArthur's quest in the mile so special is the reverance he holds for it. 

McArthur ran 4:18 in a time trial for the mile in June

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Few young men are perhaps as well read as him, or are so knowledgeable of its legends. While names like Teare, Hocker and Kessler are of recent success, there are also the prolonged successes of former Minnesota prep greats like Joe Klecker and Garrett Heath. 

And even closer to home, there's one name who's set the stage for all of this. 

If there's one person who's pushed McArthur the most, both in spirit and formerly in training, it's been the example of Mounds View graduate Austin Streit. 

"He came in as a junior and broke our school's mile record that was, I think, a 33-year-old standing record," McArthur said. "Seeing him do that and training with him his senior year -- when I found my footing in that event. Seeing his mindset and training with him, seeing how it changed his life and it was able to get him scholarships to schools. This is such cool event that everybody does, no matter what."

Now all McArthur has to do this weekend, and this oncoming spring, is put all that training into action. 

The first step in Virginia Beach this weekend is racing up to his potential in a fast field. 

"I'm really just hoping that I'll be able to be in the fastest heat this time and be able to come out and show what I can truly do and hopefully go after some of my schools records," he said. "Just be up there and be competitive and make a name for myself in one of the bigger races. Showing that Minnesota distance is coming back to the boys side a little bit."

From there, there are all the goals you would imagine a highly-driven athlete to covet: Drop those personal record times, win a bunch of races and vie for a state title. 

Eventually, perhaps by the end of the year, McArthur will have one final, big race where he can put all his cards on the table and go for it. 

"I've also been trying to work on my efficiency and cadence, so I can have that quicker turnover so that when a race does come, I'm not just loping around there and heel striking," he said. "I can be on my toes and be on the balls of my feet and be ready to kick it whenever."

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