Sebastian Coe pretended to have gone off-piste during a press conference yesterday by "accidentally" revealing plans to restore a mile race into the Commonwealth Games athletics programme.
"We have had the thought of introducing the mile back into the Commonwealth [Games] and I have an ambition to create and celebrate our own heritage, because often we have events that are the bedrock of our history," the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President, a former mile world record holder, said.
"Some of the great moments in track and field have been established in a Commonwealth Games. We still talk about the Miracle Mile, 1954 in Vancouver, these are indelible moments."
We were not told details such as precisely when it could be added or whether it would compliment or replace the 1500 metres. The mile was dropped in favour of the distance 109m shorter at the Edinburgh 1970 Games.
Coe instead spoke extensively about celebrating the history of athletics and how the Commonwealth Games could be an "incubator of innovation".
I expect he was deliberately throwing the idea out there to see how it was received. The recent passing of Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to break the four-minute barrier and the winner of the aforementioned "Miracle Mile", also made it more topical and any return at Birmingham 2022 would partly be a tribute to him.
My editor Duncan Mackay was sitting beside me and, being someone who has covered athletics for longer than I have been alive, he was positively purring with nostalgic excitement. Many other who were, shall we say, seasoned observers of the sport thought similarly.
My instinctive reaction was less enthusiastic.
I don’t have so many memories of prestigious mile races so felt less motivated by nostalgia. It all seemed a little bit backward, delving into the past rather than reaching out to what young people today are most interested in.
It also seemed slightly peripheral, tinkering around the edges rather than confronting some of the bigger problems in the sport, although perhaps that was unfair considering how Coe only spoke directly about the Commonwealth Games.
The reaction on social media was predictably mixed.
"If I had to make a list of things that Seb Coe should be focusing on this would be number 1,052,232..," said one commenter on the Facebook group "I Was or Am a Runner".
"The mile has never featured in an Olympics or World Championships and has not been in European Championships since before 1934," said another. "Despite the Anglican (sic) obsession with mile there is much more history with the 1500m throughout the entire world. The mile all-time list is dominated by US, UK and Irish athletes simply because [the] majority don’t care about the mile."
Others, rather missing the point, wrote about Brexit and the supposedly alarming resurrection of imperial measurements.
Many others, though, were enthusiastic and person after person spoke about the excitement of watching Coe, his arch-rival Steve Ovett and Steve Cram hammer it out back in the day. I spoke to two French journalists who thought it was a good idea, while the "Dream Mile" at the Bislett Games in Oslo was frequently highlighted as an iconic race.
Two distinct arguments began to emerge in support.
The first related to the Commonwealth Games. Here it was suggested that, rather than replacing the 1500m, a road mile race could be introduced alongside the marathon - the 26.2 mile showdown which is another imperial remnant - in more of a public spectacle.
It could even feature as part of a series of mile races alongside the likes of the Dream Mile, the Wanamaker Mile or the Emsley Carr Miles.
Discussion soon went far beyond the Commonwealth Games, however, and the mile was soon presented as an event which could almost save athletics and help boost wider participation.
"For me the potential is endless," said Pierce O’Callaghan, the Irish official who seems to crop up everywhere whenever a change in athletics is mooted.
"First of all, it’s four laps of the track...four even quarters of a drama...not a strange start on the back straight. The four minute element is understood by all, the potential for mass participation road miles is huge drawing in the masses where a bit like a golf handicap everyone in the world can be a sub five/six/seven/eight/nine/10 minute miler, it’s so much more achievable than sub-10 100m or sub two hour marathon and every young athlete will always know they have arrived when they go sub four.
"It will have universal approval in my opinion...and it is not an accident the IAAF President [Coe] is a former mile world record holder and the European Athletics President [Svein Arne Hansen] invented the Dream Mile in Oslo. All the stars are aligned..."
This is fascinating and makes some sense.
It is perhaps better to delve back into history and repeat an idea that has worked before rather than embrace a fad popular today which may not remain so or, in the case of skateboarding, something which has arguably already had its day.
A straight mile or four laps of the track distance is simple and easier to understand and even non-runners know that four minutes remains the milestone target. You could make a big thing of 400m check points and the relative shortness of a mile would provide spectator and broadcasting opportunities not possible for longer races.
I could even see athletes from other sport embracing a mile in a way they wouldn’t for other distances. Could some equivalent of Parkrun be set up to encourage mass participation?
On the other hand, even if continental Europeans involved in athletics are fans of the mile, it would surely be a harder sell to the average person on the street there, given how they think strictly in kilometres? The Dream Mile in Oslo last year, for the record, was only held as an under-20 race, with the top elite athletes racing over 1500m.
I canvassed athletics friends and several of them said that they consider the four-minute 1500m barrier as a better target than the four minute mile because they have a more realistic chance of achieving it. They did also speak enthusiastically about the prospect of more mile races.
To return to Coe, it was also refreshing to hear him focusing on sport and athletics history rather than wider issues. He was tweeting more about it today and asking for feedback with the hashtag #BringBackTheMile. It is therefore clear that this idea is broader than for just the Commonwealth Games.
I have been in press conference after press conference recently where administrators have banged on and on about "the social role of sport", "sport for development" and "sport and human rights".
These projects may achieve great things but become boring to listen to over and over again to the extent that you sometimes wonder if sport is just becoming an arm of some sort of wider crusade for peace.
It is, therefore, good to see an International Federation President propose a sporting innovation which he clearly genuinely believes in, even if it is far too early to tell if the idea will be successful - or even come to fruition at all.
There are plenty of ways to skin a cat or, indeed, to pace a mile, but perhaps embracing history is as valid as opening new frontiers.