Friday, May 12, 2006

Roggie - No Running Journal is ever complete without a mention of him

Roger Bannister - Four minute Mile - - in his own words.

More from othe Asha Reader's that I added to this journal.

Every runner has grown up on the legend of Roger Bannister and his great feat of breaking the "four minute barrier".

In the 1940s, running a four minute mile was thought to be the physical limit of the human body. By 1954, several men had taken up the challenge of the 4-minute mile. Bannister, a medical student and self-coached runner, was one of them. On 6 May 1954, he took part in a meet between British Amateur Athletic Association and Oxford University at Iffley Road track in Oxford.

The race was scheduled for 6pm. At 5:15pm, it rained. The wind came in gusts. But as the runners lined up for the start, the wind began to drop. Bannister decided to go for broke. He had arranged for his friends Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher to set the pace for the first laps so he completed the first three quarter-mile laps in under three minutes. Finishing the last lap in less than a minute, Bannister burst the tape and collapsed, near unconsciousness. The announcer read the time: "3 minutes . . ." The rest was lost in the roar of the crowd. Banister had broken the 4-minute barrier. 3mins 59.4secs.

Looking back, Bannister described his achievement as, ".. rather like Everest. A challenge to the human spirit .. that seemed to defy all attempts to break it." Bannister's record-setting mile run was called the Miracle Mile because some doubted a four-minute-mile was physically possible for a man to achieve. In 2005, Forbes magazine declared that Bannister's feat was the Greatest Athletic Achievement.

There is another interesting side note to this event. The announcer at the 1954 race was Norris McWhirter, who along with his brother Ross, went on to publish and edit the Guinness Book of Records.

The mile record is currently held by Hichal El Guerrouj who took 3mins 43.13secs to cover the distance at a meet in Rome in 1999.


1 (includes a video clip from BBC's coverage of the complete 1954 race)



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