CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Carolina track and field alum Reggie McAfee will be honored at the Joe Hilton Invitational at Irwin Belk Track on the campus of the University of North Carolina on April 13th with the McAfee Mile in recognition of the 40th anniversary of his becoming the first African American to break the four-minute mark of the mile.
"I am delighted that Mr. McAfee has accepted our invitation to celebrate this wonderful anniversary with us here at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on the Irwin Belk Track," said head coach Harlis Meaders on Monday, "Mr. McAfee's accomplishment of being the first African American Runner to run under four minutes in the mile was a historic event. He has continued to be a pioneer and a leader throughout his life. In his professional career he was a national leader and his personal career he continues to be a champion for children's health and fitness. He is a man of outstanding character and resolve committed to the community and the pursuit of excellence in all that he does. He is a true Tar Heel."
In 1973 while competing as a student-athlete at UNC, McAfee ran his first sub-four mile at the Big Four Meet in Raleigh, N.C., finishing behind teammate Tony Waldrop with a time of 3:59.3. McAfee went on to win the mile with an identical 3:59.3 time at the ACC Outdoor Championships the following week. He still ranks second all-time in the UNC record books for his feat in the mile.
McAfee was a four-time ACC champion, in the indoor mile, the indoor 1,000 yards, and twice in the outdoor mile, and as a four-time All-America as he finished second in the indoor mile in 1972 and 1973 and third in the outdoor mile in 1972 and 1973 at the NCAA Championships.
He still holds the UNC school record for the outdoor 800 and ranks second in five other school records for the indoor and outdoor marks.
McAfee was a bronze medalist at the World University Games in 1973 and a finalist in the 1972 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 1,500. He has been inducted into the Hall of Fame in Ohio for his high school achievements and into the Brevard College Athletics Hall of Fame and Carolina track and field's Hall of Honor.
In 2006, McAfee started the organization Cross-Country for Youth, a unique fitness program that introduces young people to cross country training, competition and character-building concepts to develop individuals. The program has over 300 students and was established in partnerships with Charlotte area schools, the Communities in Schools foundation, Mecklenburg Parks and Recreation centers and several other community organizations to provide classrooms for curriculum portions of the program.
"It has been a dream of mine to take a more holistic approach to training young people in cross-country," McAfee said. "I believe we must plant the seeds of good character for our youth and allow God to do the rest. Our goal is not to have students to only be great runners but great people."
The character development concepts of Cross-Country for Youth include integrity, respect, sportsmanship, responsibility, perseverance and teamwork.
"The cross-country concept Reggie McAfee has for middle school aged children is simply fantastic," said Jim Beatty, a UNC graduate and former Tar Heel stand-out who was the first in the world to run under four minutes indoors. "In an era when we as a society are concerned about the extremities of weight/obesity and anorexia, Mr. McAfee is establishing the starting line for a healthy lifestyle. This program will become a model for the President's Council on physical fitness."
On April 6, 2013, CCY was named the winner of the National Student-Athlete Day Giant Steps Award in Community Organization from a national pool of nominees. McAfee's former teammate Waldrop, who now serves as the provost and executive vice president of the University of Central Florida, nominated the organization for the award given by the National Consortium of Academics and Sports.
"One of my favorite quotes is from Luke 12:48, which states, 'For unto whom much is given, much is required,'" said McAfee, "I was blessed to compete in athletics at the highest level for which I'm grateful. So, it's important that I give back and make a difference in the lives of others."
McAfee has held various positions with Xerox Corporation for 27 years. In 1999 he earned the President's Club Award in recognition of becoming the top sales specialist in the United States for the company.
An active member of the Charlotte community, McAfee is a charter member of the 100 Black Men of Greater Charlotte, a past chairman of both the Board of Deacons and the Board of Directors at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, and is a current advisory board member of Parent University in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system.
McAfee earned his bachelor's degrees at UNC after earning an associate of arts degree at Brevard College. He also has a master's in finance from N.C. Central.