The tale of sub four minute mile run
Throughout history, the parameters of human capabilities have constantly been challenged and beaten. Physical sports are a regular reminder of what we as human beings can achieve and over time, people have constantly showed that they are capable of amazing
feats of physical strength and prowess. In 1954 it was widely believed that it would be impossible to run a mile in under four minutes. The man that proved them wrong in 1954 was Roger Bannister.
He was born in Harrow in England in 1929 and he went to a number of schools and colleges as part of an extensive education during his early life. It was a passion for running that inspired him to achieve greatness though. He wanted to do what people had
thought was impossible previously. He started training at Oxford University at the age of 17 and showed some real promise early on. Even in those early days, Bannister’s training seemed light and he only ran three half-hour weekly sessions. Despite of this
fact, he was able to run the mile in 4 minutes 24 seconds. With this feat he stunned those around him and he was approached to become an Olympic possible in 1948. Even though he declined this offer, he was inspired and decided to try for the 1952 Games instead.
With his renewed enthusiasm for running and competing in the Olympics, he started to train. But still he did not train as hard as he should have and after a few years without seeing any major success, he started to train diligently. The training paid off
and he started to show some real improvements in his times. Then, the 1952 Games came around and Bannister felt he was now ready to compete.
The 1952 Olympic Games were a huge disappointment for the runner, because firstly there was a new rule in place stating that there would be semi-finals in place for the 1500m race. This was a big blow to the British runner because he knew that the semi-finals
would favour runners who had much more extensive training regimes than he did. He managed to finish fifth and barely qualified for the finals. In the dramatic 1500m race which saw a record broken, Bannister came in fourth and did not win a medal. After his
disappointing run at the Olympics, Bannister thought long and hard about giving up running all together, but a new goal that he wanted to achieve, spurred him on.
That new goal was the seemingly impossible task of running a sub four minute mile. With this renewed goal and a new objective in place, Bannister set about training harder than he had ever trained before. Others seemed to be catching up to him and John Landy
seemed to getting very close to the mark. He had managed to run a best time of 4 minutes and 2 seconds. Roger knew that he would have to make an attempt and had to make it fast.
On the morning of the 6th of May 1954, during a race meet, Bannister attempted to run a sub 4 minute mile. Before running the winds had been at almost 25 miles per hour but just as the race was about to start the winds dropped and the conditions
became perfect for the run. With almost 3000 people in attendance, Bannister was able to run the mile in 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds. This historic feat was the defining moment in Roger’s career and it turned the sport of running around. With the 4 minute mile
broken, it seemed that other records could now be broken as well.
Bannister’s feat left behind a huge legacy for other runners. He was knighted for his efforts, and he was made the first chairman of the Sports Council. He was also made the inaugural Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated in 1955 and a film was also
made about the run and his life. The interesting thing about this great athlete is that he then became a neurologist and practiced for over forty years and developed some life saving techniques in the field as well.
This amazing athlete will be remembered for the phenomenal things he did in his life but he will always be known for being the first man ever to break the 4 minute mile record.