Greg Rice (athlete)

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Joseph Gregory *Greg" Rice
Greg Rice 1943.jpg
Greg Rice in 1943
Personal information
Born(1916-01-03)January 3, 1916[1]
Deer Lodge, Montana, U.S.
DiedMay 19, 1991(1991-05-19) (aged 75)
River Edge, New Jersey, U.S.
Height5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Event(s)Mile – 5000 meters
College teamNotre Dame Fighting Irish
ClubNew York Athletic Club
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)Mile – 4:13.0 (1938)
5000 m – 14:33.4 (1940)[1]

Joseph Gregory "Greg" Rice[2] (January 3, 1916 – May 19, 1991) was an American long-distance runner. He was five times American champion in the 5000 m, set world indoor best times at two miles and three miles, and in 1940 received the Sullivan Award as the outstanding American amateur athlete. Like most athletes of his generation his athletics career was curtailed by the outbreak of World War II.

Early life[edit]

Rice was born in Deer Lodge, Montana on January 3, 1916, later moving to Missoula, Montana. Whilst attending Missoula County High School, Rice won both the 800 and mile high-school state titles in his sophomore, junior and senior years.[2] Greg Rice ran for Notre Dame university track team whilst studying there. He graduated in 1939. During this period he won two NCAA 2 miles titles in 1937 and 1939. Rice also won the inaugural NCAA cross-country title in 1939.

Track and field career[edit]

At 5' 5" height but barrel-chested, Rice was nicknamed the "Little Dynamo".[3] After leaving Notre Dame, Rice was affiliated with the New York Athletic Club[2]

His achievements in 1940: American records at 2 and 3 miles; winning the national 5000 m title; and beating Finland's champion athlete Taisto Mäki meant he was the overwhelming winner of the Sullivan Award that year[4][5] On the 28 February 1942 at the AAU indoor championships, Rice set a world indoor best time at three miles of 13:45.7, a time not bettered for 17 years.[3][6]

On March 16, 1943, Rice set a world indoor best time for two miles of 8:51.0, a time not bettered for 9 years.[6]

Overall, Rice was to set indoor best times on 8 occasions. At one point in his career, he was unbeaten for 65 races indoors and outdoors (55 alone indoors) [7] and won 3 indoor national titles at 3 miles (1940–43).[6]

On June 6, 1942, Rice set a new American outdoor record for 3 miles of 14:00.0.[8] His final race was on June 20, 1943, where he came second to the legendary Swedish runner Gunder Hägg over 5000 m at the AAU Championships. His training for the race had been interrupted by time at sea following his enlisting in the United States Maritime Service six months earlier.

Later life[edit]

After his service in the war, Rice worked as an accountant for the toy company Louis Marx & Company. He retired in 1984.[6] Rice remained active within athletics serving as an official. He was married and had 4 sons and 4 daughters. He died in 1991 of a stroke[6]

USA Championships[edit]

Rice was a very successful competitor at 5000 m in the USA National Track and Field Championships (then AAU Championships) between 1938 and 1943:[9]

USA Championships
Year 5000m
1938 1st
1939 1st
1940 1st
1941 1st
1942 1st
1943 2nd

Accolades and awards[edit]

  • In 1940, Rice received the Sullivan Award as the outstanding American amateur athlete.
  • In 1977, he was inducted into the United States Track and Field Hall of Fame[7]
  • In 1994, he was inducted into the Montana High School Association Hall of Fame.[2]
  • In 2005, he was inducted into the Millrose Games Hall of Fame (because of his four wins at 2 miles in the Millrose Games in 1939 and 1941–43).[10]


  1. ^ a b Greg Rice.
  2. ^ a b c d Joseph Gregory Rice (135) Missoula High School, MHSA Athletes Hall of Fame, Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  3. ^ a b Eugene Register-Guard (February 28, 1942) Greg Rice Gallops to New 3-Mile Mark, Associated Press. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  4. ^ Gregory Rice is Names Winner of Sullivan Award, Associated Press, The Morning Herald, Gloversville and Johnstown, January 9, 1941. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  5. ^ Notre Dame Lad Thrills Fans With Speed in Three Mile, INS, Toledo Blade, April 1, 1940.
  6. ^ a b c d e Thomas Rodgers (May 22, 1991) Greg Rice, a Champion Runner Of the Early 1940's, Dies at 75, New York Times .
  7. ^ a b Greg Rice, USA Track and Field Hall of Fame.
  8. ^ Greg Rice sets new record for three-mile run, Herald-Journal, June 7, 1942.
  9. ^ History of US Nationals Results: 5000 Meters. Men, Track & Field News.
  10. ^ Irish Track and Field Legend Greg Rice To Be Inducted Into Millrose Games Hall of Fame, The Official Site of Notre Dame Athletics, Retrieved 16 March 2014.