Snell’s Tortured Race to a Record Mile
Although he was, in his own words, 'desperate and struggling,' New Zealand's three-gold-medal Olympian beat his own mark and completely routed the world's second and third best Milers
By Sports Illustrated
"The first half Mile was, I felt, too fast," said Peter Snell, "but I was carried along by the whole atmosphere and excitement. I could feel the pace catching up with me. I struggled along to the three-quarter mark, and from then on I was hanging on desperately."
The thing about Peter Snell is that he can hang on desperately at speeds faster than most men can run feeling fine. Last week in Auckland, New Zealand, when he raced the Mile in 3:54.1 to break his own world record by three-tenths of a second, the first half Mile was timed in 1:54, stunningly fast time at that point in a Mile race. The second half Mile—Snell's desperate, struggling period—took a tenth of a second more than two minutes flat, which means that Snell, hanging on, ran that half in almost precisely the pace required for a 4 minute Mile.
If the searing 1:54 beginning bothered Snell, it took even more out of his two prime rivals, Josef Odlozil of Czechoslovakia and fellow New Zealander John Davies, who had finished second and third behind Snell in the 1500 meter run at the Tokyo Olympics.
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