If you weren't there, if you did not catch it in person, if you did not see it with your own eyes, you wouldn't believe it.
It seems, in a word, impossible.
That split. That win. That moment.
It was Aden Bandukwala, a high school junior from Hinsdale Central, going from last place with 400 meters to go to first, and then with time to spare.
If we add up all of the parts, it still feels unreachable, incalculable, a once-in-a-decade type race.
Bandukwala claimed his IHSA Class 3A 1,600m win on Saturday at O'Brien Field Stadium at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston with a time of 4:10.39.
He did it by running 54.88 seconds on his last lap.
Consider just how fast that is. That 400m time would be the 65th-best time in Rhode Island, 107th in Wyoming, 162nd in New Mexico, 233rd in Idaho and inside the top 560 statewide performances in Minnesota.
We relay those stats just to remind you that, in any other state, 54.8 is nothing to sneeze at. In Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia or Illinois, maybe that time might mean something different, but across the U.S., a sub-55 still holds merit.
Now, consider the winning time.
Bandukwala ran a top 100 effort in the U.S. on Saturday in the 1,600m, becoming just the 89th athlete to run under 4:11. He ran the fourth-fastest time in Illinois over the year, and the 32nd-fastest time in state history.
Now, consider his place.
After a conservative first lap, and another 100 meters, he was in last place. He stayed there until the bell lap.
Now, consider that anchor again.
That is what makes this performance one for the ages. In most high school miles or events at 1,600m, if athletes are measuring their races just right, even the most elite athletes who break 4:15 struggle to capture a 60-second last lap.
Bandukwala went into his back pocket, 1,200 meters into a state championship race, and ripped off a time that would be admirable in most other situations.
Understandably, the crowd seized on the moment.
Along the backstretch, the atmosphere swelled as the Hinsdale Central junior made his move.
As he passed his competitor on the final straightaway, it crescendoed like a booming wave.
Undoubtedly, that race, that move and that final moment will be remembered in the annals of Illinois history.
Photo Credit: Jorge Espinosa/Illinois MileSplit
- Illinois State Championship meet page
- Illinois State Championship archived race videos
- IHSA interviews