Johnny Gregorek, an ASICS elite athlete and American middle-distance runner, hails from an elite running family – his parents both accomplished, professional runners in the 1980s. And although he comes from a competitive family, becoming a professional runner wasn’t something he necessarily set out to do. Running came naturally and he instead just enjoyed being a part of the running community he grew up in.
That enjoyment coupled with hard work has led him to his own accomplished running career – competing at the Division I level, finishing 3rd at the US Championships and becoming the second fastest American to run the mile. But one of his more recent accomplishments and a unique record – the fastest to run a mile in blue jeans - holds a special place in his record books.
In May 2020, Johnny set out to break the world record for the Blue Jean Mile in honor of his brother, Patrick, who lost his battle with mental illness at just 21-years-old in 2019.
Paddy, as he was affectionately referred to by his family, enjoyed running for the fun of it, as Johnny had early on. And Johnny felt Paddy would have enjoyed watching him try to run the mile as fast as possible in a pair of blue jeans.
In 2020, Johnny’s initial goal was to raise $2,500 for the National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City, a non-profit organization that became a resource for him after his brother’s passing. But the running community quickly rallied behind Johnny and he blew past his initial goal and ultimately raised over $37,000. He went on to break the record, running the mile in 4:06.25.
“I want to thank my little brother Paddy for inspiring me every day. And I love him and I miss him and this is for him.” Johnny said after finishing his record-breaking run. “This is for anyone else who is out there struggling with their mind at this time or any time. Know that you’re loved and be kind to yourself.”