Mile News

Sub-4 Fever

March 05, 2014

AW’s editor looks ahead excitedly to the 60th anniversary of Roger Bannister’s first sub-4 minute Mile: the Everest of athletics

By Jason Henderson, Athletics Weekly

When Roger Bannister ran 3:59.4 in Oxford on May 6, 1954, to become the first man to break the 4-minute barrier for one Mile, he was instantly immortalized. The feat is undoubtedly the greatest athletics achievement of all-time, possibly even the top sporting moment in history. It is, quite simply, the Everest of athletics.

Don’t take my word for it. “It is right up there with Bobby Moore lifting the World Cup for England,” said Seb Coe, when I interviewed him for Athletics Weekly’s “sub-four special” issue in 2004 – a magazine that marked the 50th anniversary of Bannister’s run at Iffley Road and proved one of the most popular issues ever.

Frank Deford of Sports Illustrated put it pretty well too. “The poles had been reached,” he wrote, “the mouth of the Nile found, the deepest oceans marked, the tallest mountain scaled, and the wildest jungles trekked but the distance of ground that measured one Mile continued to resist all efforts to traverse it, on foot, in less than four minutes.”

Now, we find ourselves on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the famous feat. Bannister himself is bringing out a new autobiography, Twin Tracks, and he was also at a publicity event recently with Diane Charles and David Weir to promote the Bupa Westminster Mile in London on May 24. Running under her maiden name of Leather, Charles was the first woman to break the 5-minute barrier for the Mile – also in 1954 – while Weir hopes to become the world’s first sub-3 minute Miler in a wheelchair on the roads of the Westminster event.

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