Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Bannister recounts the first sub 4 minute mile...

Friday, March 02, 2012

Bannister recounts the first sub 4 minute mile...

In a recent interview, 82-year-old Roger Bannister recounts the time back on the 6th of May 1954 when he ran 3:59.4 to break the four minute mile barrier for the first time. Running on a cinder track in Oxford, it remains to this day one of the most iconic moments of athletics history.

During the interview, Bannister said...."It's amazing that more people have climbed Mount Everest than have broken the 4-minute mile."

Back in the early 50's, there were a number of middle distance runners who had ran close to the 4 minute barrier. Bannister said..""There was no logic in my mind that if you can run a mile in 4 minutes, 1 and 2/5ths, you can't run it in 3:59. I knew enough medicine and physiology to know it wasn't a physical barrier, but I think it had become a psychological barrier."

As for the race itself.......
Bannister had lined up English runners Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway as pacemakers. He tucked in behind Brasher, a steeplechaser, who ran the first lap in 58 seconds and the first half-mile in 1:58. Chataway moved to the front and took them through three laps in 3:01. Bannister would have to run the final lap in 59 seconds.

His long arms and legs pumping, his lungs gasping for oxygen, he surged in front of Chataway with about 300 yards to go. "I then went flat out for the finishing line, and just about managed to stagger over it," he said. "I couldn't stand at the end."

The chief timekeeper was Harold Abrahams, the 100-meter champion at the 1924 Paris Olympics whose story inspired the film "Chariots of Fire." He handed a piece of paper to Norris McWhirter, who announced the time: "3...". "That was when the crowd exploded and we didn't hear any more," Bannister said. "It didn't matter what the rest was."

The record didn't stand for long. Six weeks later, John Landy of Australia ran 3:57.9 in Turku, Finland. (The current record stands at 3:43.13, held by Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj since 1999.). Bannister would lower his own record to 3:58.8 in Vancouver in 1954.

The full article can be seen HERE

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Norris McWhirter and his twin brother Ross were the co founders of the Guinness Book of Records,he was also an International athlete himself representing Scotland.