Jim Ryun

Jim Ryun
Jim Ryun
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kansas's 2nd district
In office
November 27, 1996 – January 3, 2007
Preceded by Sam Brownback
Succeeded by Nancy Boyda
Personal details
Born April 29, 1947 (1947-04-29) (age 64)
Wichita, Kansas
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Anne Ryun
Residence Jefferson County, Kansas
Alma mater University of Kansas
Occupation athlete, sports management executive
Religion Evangelical Presbyterian
Olympic medal record
Competitor for  United States
Men's Athletics
Silver 1968 Mexico City 1500 metres

James Ronald ("Jim") Ryun (born April 29, 1947) is an American former track athlete and politician, who was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from 1996 to 2007, representing the 2nd District in Kansas. In the 2006 election, Ryun was defeated by Democratic challenger Nancy Boyda. In the Kansas Republican primary on August 5, 2008, he was defeated by Kansas State Treasurer Lynn Jenkins.[1]

Years prior to his political career, Ryun had an athletic career that saw him become a world-class runner and the last American to hold the world record in the mile run. His career was highlighted by many world record times, although in his three tries he never won an Olympic gold medal.



High school athletic achievements

  • In 1964 Ryun became the first high school runner to break four minutes for the mile, running 3:59.0 as a junior at Wichita High School East in Wichita, Kansas.
  • Established the high school and U.S. open mile record 3:55.3 as a senior in 1965, a record that stood as the high school record for 36 years until broken by Alan Webb's 3:53.43 in 2001. It is also the last time an American male high school athlete broke an open American record in a major outdoor track and field event. In this record race he beat the reigning Olympic champion and former world record holder Peter Snell of New Zealand.
  • His 3:58.3 to win the mile at the 1965 Kansas High School State Meet is still the record for the fastest time ever in a race that includes only high school competitors.
  • Today he still holds five of the six fastest mile times in U.S. high school history (all sub-four minute), with Alan Webb’s record race holding the other spot.
  • With five sub-four minute miles he is the only high school athlete in history with more than two such times. (Alan Webb has two, while Marty Liquori, Tim Danielson, and Lukas Verzbicas have one each.)
  • He is the only athlete to run a four minute mile as a high school junior.
  • After his junior year he qualified for the 1964 Summer Olympics in the 1500. He made it to the semifinal round, where he was eliminated.
  • As a high school senior he was voted the fourth best miler in the world by the experts at Track & Field News.
  • ESPN.com has him rated as the number 1 high school athlete of all time, beating out people such as Tiger Woods and LeBron James.[2]

Post high school athletic career

In 1966, at age nineteen, Ryun set world records in the mile and the half-mile runs, and received Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsman of the Year" award, as well as the James E. Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete, the ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year, and was voted Track & Field News' Athlete of the Year as the world’s best track & field athlete. Ironically, Ryun did all of this before he was permitted to run for the school he attended, University of Kansas, since NCAA rules at the time did not allow freshmen to compete in NCAA competition. In 1967 Ryun ran a world record in the indoor half mile (1:48.3) and outdoors lowered his world-record time in the mile from 3:51.3 to 3:51.1, a record that stood for almost eight years. That same year he set the world record for the 1500 meters in 3:33.1, running his last lap in a blazing 53.3 seconds and his final 1,200 meters in an amazing 2:46.6.

In NCAA competition Ryun was the 1967 NCAA outdoor mile champion. He was also the NCAA indoor mile champion in 1967, 1968, and 1969, and in 1968 doubled back to win the 1968 NCAA indoor two-mile (3 km) championship race (handing Gerry Lindgren his only NCAA championship loss). Ryun's 1969 win in the mile helped the Kansas Jayhawks win the NCAA indoor track championship that year. With his University of Kansas teammates he also anchored a world record in the sprint medley relay (3:15.2) and twice in the distance medley relay (9:33.8 at the Drake Relays in 1967 and then 9:33.0 at the Kansas Relays in 1969, Ryan's 3:57.6 anchor leg for the mile being his last collegiate race on his home track).

Today, over 40 years after he set them, Ryun still holds the American junior (19 and under) records at 880 yd (1:44.9), 800 m (1:44.3), 1,500 m (3:36.1), and two miles (8:25.1). In all, he broke the American record for the mile four times: once as a high school senior (3:55.3 on 27 June 1965), twice as a college freshman (3:53.7 on 4 June 1966 & 3:51.3 on 17 July 1966), and once as a college sophomore (3:51.1 on 23 June 1967).

Ryun participated in the 1964, 1968, and 1972 Summer Olympics, but the gold medal eluded him. Having completely recovered from mononucleosis in the spring of 1968, he won a silver medal in the 1500 meters that autumn in the high altitude of Mexico City, losing to Kip Keino from Kenya, whose remarkable race remained the Olympic 1,500-meter record for 16 years. (Before the race Ryun had thought that a time of 3:39 would be good enough to win in the high altitude of Mexico City. He ended up running faster than that with a 3:37.8, but Keino's 3:34.9 was too tough to beat at that altitude. Years later, in 1981, he told Tex Maule in an interview for The Runner magazine, "We had thought that 3:39 would win and I ran under that. I considered it like winning a gold medal; I had done my very best and I still believe I would have won at sea level." Ryun was attacked by some writers who believed he had let his nation down. "Some even said I had let down the whole world. I didn't get any credit for running my best and no one seemed to realize that Keino had performed brilliantly.") In the 1972 Munich, Germany games, he was tripped and fell down during a 1500-meter qualifying heat. Although the International Olympic Committee (IOC) acknowledged that a foul had occurred and tapes from a German television station clearly demonstrated that Ryun was tripped, U.S. appeals to have Ryun reinstated in the competition were denied by the IOC.

Ryun’s 1500-meter world record, run in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during the US vs. British Commonwealth meet in July 1967, was one of Ryun’s greatest running performances. Track and Field News reported that “after 220 yards of dawdling, a record seemed out of the question.” However, after 440 yards, which Ryun, in third, passed in 60.9 seconds, Kip Keino took the lead and ran the next lap in 56 seconds (the fastest second lap ever run at the time). Ryun, just behind, passed the 880-yard mark in 1:57.0. At 1320 yards the two were side by side in 2:55.0. Ryun pulled away to finish in 3:33.1, a record that stood for seven years. With a last 440 yards of 53.9 and a last 880 yards of 1:51.3, Cordner Nelson of Track and Field News called it “the mightiest finishing drive ever seen,” and said of Ryun’s performance, “This was most certainly his greatest race.”

Ryun's final season as an amateur in 1972 included the third-best mile of his career (at the time, also the third fastest in history: a 3:52.8 at Toronto, Canada on July 29), a 5,000-meter career best (13:38.2 at Bakersfield, CA on May 20), and an inspiring win in the 1,500 meters at the U.S. Olympic Trials. He left amateur athletics after 1972 and for the next two years ran professionally on the International Track Association circuit. After this, he retired from track competition altogether. In 1980 he began running various road races for charity purposes, eventually achieving a 10 km best of 31:36.

World records

Distance Time Date City
880 yards 1:44.9 October 6, 1966 Terre Haute, IN
1,500 meters 3:33.1 July 8, 1967 Los Angeles, CA
One Mile 3:51.3 July 17, 1966 Berkeley, CA
One Mile 3:51.1 June 23, 1967 Bakersfield, CA
One Mile (indoor) 3:56.4 February 19, 1971 San Diego, CA


  • Since 880 yards is longer than 800 meters the 1:44.9 was also converted into an en-route time at 800 m of 1:44.3, which equaled the existing world record, and remained the world and American record until broken by Rick Wohlhuter's 1.44.6 in 1973.
  • The 3:33.1 1,500 m mark remained the world record for six years until broken by Tanzania’s Filbert Bayi's 3:32.2 in 1974.
  • The 3:51.1 mile mark remained the world record for eight years until broken by Bayi's 3:51.0 in 1975.

Athletic awards

Track & Field News Athlete of the Year award for both 1966 & 1967, the first athlete to win this prestigious award two years in a row.

The 1966 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year award.

The 1966 James E. Sullivan Award, presented to the best amateur athlete in the U.S.

The 1966 ABC Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year award

Jim Ryun’s Track & Field News World Rankings:

  • 1966 — 1
  • 1965 — 4
  • 1966 — 1
  • 1967 — 1
  • 1968 — 2
  • 1969 — 7
  • 1971 — 6
  • 1972 — 9

In 1980 Ryun was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame and in 2003 he was inducted into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame.


Ryun was born in Wichita, Kansas. He now lives in Lawrence, though he was listed in the House roll as "R-Topeka." He also owns a farm in Jefferson County.

Ryun and his wife, Anne, whom he married in 1969, have four children and seven grandchildren. He and his sons, Ned Ryun and Drew, have co-authored three books: Heroes Among Us, The Courage to Run, and In Quest of Gold- The Jim Ryun Story.

After graduating from the University of Kansas in 1970 with a degree in photojournalism, Ryun moved to Eugene, Oregon; looking for a good training situation to continue his track career. Six months later, he moved to Santa Barbara, California, where he and his family remained for nine years. He and his family moved back to Lawrence in 1981.

Raised in the Church of Christ, Ryun and his wife are members of Grace Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Lawrence.

Career prior to election to Congress

Before being elected to the House of Representatives in 1996, Ryun had operated Jim Ryun Sports, a company that ran sports camps, and worked as a motivational speaker at meetings of corporations and Christian groups around the country.[3] Among his projects, Ryun, who has a 50% hearing loss, helped the ReSound Hearing Aid Company develop a program called Sounds of Success, aimed at helping children with hearing loss. Since 1973, Ryun and his family have hosted running camps every summer for high school aged runners and continue to do so.

House of Representatives


Ryun was first elected in 1996 to fill a seat vacated by Republican Sam Brownback. He won the three-person Republican primary with 62 percent of the vote, defeating former Topeka mayor Doug Wright and Cheryl Brown Henderson,[4] the daughter of the plaintiff in the historic Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka desegregation case.[3] In the general campaign, Ryun was in tight race with Democrat John Frieden, a prominent Topeka trial attorney, who outspent Ryun $750,000 to $400,000.[3] Ryun won that contest with 52 percent of the vote.

He was re-elected in 1998, 2000 and 2002, receiving more than 60 percent of the vote each cycle.

In 2004, Democrat Nancy Boyda, a former moderate Republican, ran a campaign with spending near that of Ryun's, $1,105,838 (compared to Ryun's $1,136,464).[5] Ryun defeated her by a margin of 55% to 42%.

In the 2006 election, Boyda was again the Democratic nominee, with Roger Tucker of the Reform Party USA also on the ballot.[6] Initially expected to win, Ryun found his campaign faltering as internal polling by both Boyda and Republicans revealed a Democratic lead. In response, Ryun's campaign recruited both President Bush and Vice President Cheney to visit Topeka to campaign and raise campaign funds for Ryun. Ryun was defeated in an upset by Boyda, 51% to 47%.[7]

In March 2007 Ryun confirmed that he would run for his old seat.[8] In the Republican primary, he faced Kansas State Treasurer Lynn Jenkins, a moderate who has served two terms as State Treasurer, a partial term in the Kansas Senate and two years in the Kansas House. Ryun lost to Jenkins, 51% to 49%.[9]

Political actions

Ryun served on the Armed Services, Budget and Financial Services committees.

Ryun generally supported George W. Bush's legislative agenda, voting to support it 89% of the time, average for a House member who was from the same party as the sitting President.[10] In 2003, he voted against the $373 billion end-of-session spending bill because he considered it to be too costly and had come to Congress to support fiscal restraint.

Ryun broke with the President over two major initiatives, No Child Left Behind and Medicare reform legislation that included a prescription drug benefit. In voting against No Child Left Behind, Ryun said he believed states should have more control over their own education system. In opposing the Medicare bill, Ryun said the bill didn't provide enough reform to keep future costs from soaring.

In 2006, the National Journal rated Ryun as the nation's most conservative member of Congress.[11] He was a member of the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of 103 fiscally and socially conservative House Republicans.

Environmental record

In 2005, Ryun scored 0 percent on the Republicans for Environmental Protection ("REP") scorecard. There were 12 issues that were considered by the REP to be critical environmental issues.[12] Jim Ryun voted with what the REP would consider pro-environment on none of the issues voted upon. These issues consisted of the drilling of oil and natural gas,Congressman Richard Pombo's bill designed to weaken the Endangered Species Act of 1973, an amendment to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, by Congresswoman Lois Capps to remove section 1502, a provision that would provide liability protection for manufacturers of the gasoline additive MTBE, and the movement to increase fuel economy standards.[12]

Ryun also scored a 0 on League of Conservation Voters's ("LCV") scorecard. Many of REP's critical issues were present on the scorecard.[13]

In 2006, Ryun improved his REP scorecard when he voted pro-environment on 2 of 7 critical issues. This earned him a 17 percent.[14] He voted to help reduce the impact the Army Corps of Engineers had on the environment. The issues in which he voted against the REP were ones involving oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, renewable resource programs, and the movement to end debate and accept the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act.


Legal defense trust contribution

Along with 89 other House members, Ryun gave a one time contribution of $1,000 to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's legal defense trust.[15]

Townhouse purchase in 2000

On December 15, 2000, Ryun bought a townhouse in the District of Columbia from U.S. Family Network for $410,000,[16][17][18] The townhouse had been purchased about two years earlier, for $429,000,[19] to house Buckham's consulting firm Alexander Strategy Group and DeLay's ARMPAC.

After questions were raised as to the purchase of Ryun's townhome, his office released official documents showing that Ryun paid $80,000 more than the tax assessed value of the house, that he put another $50,000 into house repairs and that another home on the same block was sold for $409,000 on the same day he bought his home. According to property records, the other home does not have a garage or a back patio and is on a land area about half the size of Ryun's. It was assessed in 2006 as worth $528,000, compared to $764,000 for Ryun's home. In contrast, homes across the street from Ryun's were sold for over $900,000.[20]

Connection to Mark Foley

After Rep. Mark Foley resigned in October 2006, following revelations he had sent sexually explicit e-mails to teenage congressional pages, Ryun contended that he barely knew Foley, had never spent time with him, and was unaware that they lived directly across the street from each other in Washington, D.C. "I know that [we were neighbors] only because somebody has mentioned that, too, already," he told reporters at the time. However, it was later revealed that Ryun and Foley had hosted a joint fundraiser on their street on May 18, 2006, called the "D Street Block Party." An invitation to the fundraiser included side-by-side pictures of Ryun and Foley. Ryun's campaign manager later admitted that Ryun had always known he was Foley's neighbor.[21]


  1. ^ "2008 Unofficial Kansas Election Results". Secretary of State (State of Kansas). August 5, 2008. http://www.kssos.org/ent/maps_graphs.html#USHSE2. Retrieved 2008-08-06. 
  2. ^ http://espn.go.com/page2/s/list/highschool.html
  3. ^ a b c Chris Wilson and Greg St. Clair, "The runner's last lap: how Jim Ryun refused to go negative, lost a big lead, then recovered in the final week to win a U.S. house seat", Campaigns & Elections, April, 1997, published by Congressional Quarterly
  4. ^ Toppo, Greg (2004-05-16). "Cheryl Brown Henderson". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2004-05-14-cheryl-brown-henderson_x.htm. Retrieved 2006-08-30. 
  5. ^ Total Raised and Spent 2004
  6. ^ List of Candidates in Kansas
  7. ^ Democrats dominate Lawrence Journal-World
  8. ^ "Ryun Plans to Run for Congress"
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ ""Bush slipping in the Senate, holding the House""]. Chicago Tribune. http://weblogs.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/blog/2006/08/bush_slipping_in_the_senate_ho.html. 
  11. ^ SPECIAL REPORT: 2006 VOTE RATINGS House Liberal Scores, National Journal
  12. ^ a b Republicans for Environmental Protection 2005 Scorecard
  13. ^ League of Conservation Voters
  14. ^ Republicans for Environmental Protection 2006 Scorecard
  15. ^ "Rep. Tom DeLay’s Legal Expense Trust: Analysis of Contribution Records" (pdf), Public Citizen, February 1, 2005
  16. ^ Deed for sale of U.S. Family Network's townhouse.
  17. ^ Paul Kiel, "Just How Sweet Was Ryun's Townhouse Deal?", TPMMuckracker.com, March 28, 2006
  18. ^ R. Jeffrey Smith, Washington Post, March 25, 2006
  19. ^ Deed for purchase of U.S. Family Network's townhouse, January 12, 1999, TPMMuckracker.com
  20. ^ "Congressman denies improper real estate deal., Associated Press, March 29, 2006
  21. ^ "Ryun's story on Foley changes: Congressman has always known who lived across street", The Capital-Journal, October 23, 2006

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Sam Brownback
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kansas's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Nancy Boyda
Preceded by
Australia Herb Elliott
Men's 1,500m World Record Holder
July 8, 1967 – February 2, 1974
Succeeded by
Tanzania Filbert Bayi
Preceded by
France Michel Jazy
Men's Mile World Record Holder
July 17, 1966 – May 17, 1975
Succeeded by
Tanzania Filbert Bayi
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Australia Ron Clarke
Track & Field Athlete of the Year
Succeeded by
United States Bob Beamon
Preceded by
Dick Anderson, Bob Johnson, Donna Lopiano, Don Schollander, Stan Smith and Wyomia Tyus
Silver Anniversary Awards (NCAA)
Class of 1994
alongside: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lee Evans, Calvin Hill, William C. Hurd and Leroy Keyes
Succeeded by
Lesley Bush, Larry Echohawk, Kwaku Ohene-Frempong, Bob Lanier, Mike Phipps and Mike Reid

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  • Jim Ryun — (eigentlich James Ronald Ryun; * 29. April 1947 in Wichita, Kansas) ist ein US amerikanischer Politiker und ehemaliger Leichtathlet. Er ist Mitglied der Republikanischen Partei und war von 1996 bis 2007 Abgeordneter im Repräsentantenhaus der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Jim Ryun — en 2006. James Ronald « Jim » Ryun, né le 29 avril 1947 à Wichita dans le Kansas, est un ancien athlète et désormais politicien américain. Il est membre du Parti républicain et depuis 1997, il fait partie de la Chambre des représentants …   Wikipédia en Français

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  • Ryun — /ruy euhn/, n. James Ronald (Jim), born 1947, U.S. track and field athlete. * * * …   Universalium

  • Ryun — /ruy euhn/, n. James Ronald (Jim), born 1947, U.S. track and field athlete …   Useful english dictionary

  • Ryun, Jim —  (1947–) American distance runner and Republican politician …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

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