Mile News

Four Minutes of Fame

August 11, 1997

Remembering Don Bowden's U.S. milestone

Brad Herzog, Sports Illustrated

When Roger Bannister first ran the Mile in less than four minutes, on May 6, 1954, he was hailed the next morning by The New York Times as having achieved "one of man's hitherto unattainable goals." The four-minute barrier was not only physical but also psychological, and by cracking it with a time of 3:59.4, the Oxford medical student cleared the path for runners everywhere. Within three years, sub-4 minute Miles had been run 17 times by 11 runners. But not by an American.

It wasn't until June 1957 that a gangly 20-year-old Californian with economics studies on his mind, the half mile or 880 on his track agenda and only four competitive Miles under his belt became the first U.S. citizen to run a sub-4 minute Mile. But who remembers? Though he bolstered his nation's pride 40 years ago, Don Bowden remains little more than an afterthought in most running histories. Unlike Bannister, Bowden didn't become a household name.

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