The 4 minute Mile, exact to the nearest inch
Our task was to measure the track’s inside lane, six inches in from the edge, to check that Sir Roger had run one Mile, no more and no less.
John Barrell letter to The Telegraph
SIR – I read Sir Roger Bannister’s article on his epic race with great interest as it brought back memories for me. In May 1954 I was a young engineering assistant with the City of Oxford.
On the morning following the race, my colleague and I were summoned to the office of the City Engineer. There he instructed us to leave whatever we were doing, to draw a surveyor’s measuring chain from the store, check its accuracy and then proceed to the Iffley Road running ground. Our task was to measure the track’s inside lane, six inches in from the edge, to check that Sir Roger had run one Mile, no more and no less.
I have often wondered what would have happened had we reported it to be a yard short, or whether we would have had the courage to have reported it thus.
Fortunately we were able to confirm the track’s accuracy and report to the City Engineer that Sir Roger had indeed run 1,760 yards in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds.
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