RIP Roger Bannister

The first sub four minute mile man.

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13 Responses to RIP Roger Bannister

  1. stackja

    Yes! Then went back to school.

  2. Leigh Lowe

    4 minute mile?
    I want the B-sample tested.

  3. Rafe

    Now you mention it.
    He was a medical man☺.

  4. Old School Conservative


  5. stackja

    Roger Bannister
    From Wikipedia

    After his relative failure at the 1952 Olympics, Bannister spent two months deciding whether to give up running. He set himself on a new goal: to be the first man to run a mile in under four minutes.[7] Accordingly, he intensified his training and did hard intervals.

    On 2 May 1953, he made an attempt on the British record at Oxford. Paced by Chris Chataway, Bannister ran 4:03.6, shattering Wooderson’s 1945 standard. “This race made me realise that the four-minute mile was not out of reach,” said Bannister.

    On 27 June, a mile race was inserted into the programme of the Surrey schools athletic meeting. Australian runner Don Macmillan, ninth in the 1500 m at the 1952 Olympics, set a strong pace with 59.6 and 1:59.7 for two laps. He gave up after 2​1⁄2 laps, but Chris Brasher took up the pace. Brasher had jogged the race, allowing Bannister to lap him so he could be a fresh pace-setter. At ¾ mile, Bannister was at 3:01.8, the record—and first sub-four-minute mile—in reach. But the effort fell short with a finish in 4:02.0, a time bettered by only Andersson and Hägg. British officials would not allow this performance to stand as a British record, which, Bannister felt in retrospect, was a good decision. “My feeling as I look back is one of great relief that I did not run a four-minute mile under such artificial circumstances,” he said.

    But other runners were making attempts at the four-minute barrier and coming close as well. American Wes Santee ran 4:02.4 on 5 June, the fourth-fastest mile ever. And at the end of the year, Australian John Landy ran 4:02.0.

    Sub-4-minute mile
    This historic event took place on 6 May 1954 during a meet between British AAA and Oxford University at Iffley Road Track in Oxford, watched by about 3,000 spectators.[9] With winds up to 25 miles per hour (40 km/h) before the event,[9] Bannister had said twice that he favoured not running, to conserve his energy and efforts to break the 4-minute barrier; he would try again at another meet. However, the winds dropped just before the race was scheduled to begin, and Bannister did run.

    The pace-setters from his major 1953 attempts, future Commonwealth Games gold medallist Chris Chataway from the 2 May attempt and future Olympic Games gold medallist Chris Brasher from the 27 June attempt, combined to provide pacing on this historic day. The race[9] was broadcast live by BBC Radio and commented on by 1924 Olympic 100 metres champion Harold Abrahams, of Chariots of Fire fame.

    Bannister had begun his day at a hospital in London, where he sharpened his racing spikes and rubbed graphite on them so they would not pick up too much cinder ash. He took a mid-morning train from Paddington Station to Oxford, nervous about the rainy, windy conditions that afternoon.[7]

    Being a dual-meet format, there were seven men entered in the mile: Alan Gordon, George Dole and Nigel Miller from Oxford University and four British AAA runners – Bannister, his two pacemakers Brasher and Chataway and Tom Hulatt. Nigel Miller arrived as a spectator and he only realised that he was due to run when he read the programme. Efforts to borrow a running kit failed and he could not take part, thus reducing the field to six.[10]

    The race went off as scheduled at 6:00 pm, and Brasher and Bannister went immediately to the lead.[9] Brasher, wearing No. 44, led both the first lap in 58 seconds and the half-mile in 1:58, with Bannister (No. 41) tucked in behind, and Chataway (No. 42) a stride behind Bannister.[7] Chataway moved to the front after the second lap and maintained the pace with a 3:01 split at the bell. Chataway continued to lead around the front turn until Bannister began his finishing kick with about 275 yards to go (just over a half-lap), running the last lap in just under 59 seconds.[11]

    The stadium announcer for the race was Norris McWhirter, who went on to co-publish and co-edit the Guinness Book of Records.[12] He excited the crowd by delaying the announcement of the time Bannister ran as long as possible:[13]

    Ladies and gentlemen, here is the result of event nine, the one mile: first, number forty one, R. G. Bannister, Amateur Athletic Association and formerly of Exeter and Merton Colleges, Oxford, with a time which is a new meeting and track record, and which—subject to ratification—will be a new English Native, British National, All-Comers, European, British Empire and World Record. The time was three…

    The roar of the crowd drowned out the rest of the announcement. Bannister’s time was 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds.

  6. Dr Fred Lenin

    Those were great days innocence abounded ,most of the commos were in Russia and China not all over the place like now . Philby ,Burgess,McLean and the Cambridge cell were doin what they did best . The “refugees” from the socialist Nazis were spying on US nuclear secrets to give to the Reds . Good days if you made $40 a week you were doing ok .cigs and beer were cheap ,there were pubs on every corner ,and drunks all over the place. Percy Cerutti was training our future 4 minute milers at Portsea ry[unning up and down the dunes .

  7. Ubique

    My dear old friend and running partner Cecil, a Cambridge man, regularly competed against Roger Bannister in the early 1950s. He spoke glowingly of Bannister this morning over a coffee at Leighton Beach here in Perth. Cecil, who will soon turn 88 himself, is still competing in Masters’ Athletics.

  8. Philippa Martyr

    When I lived in Oxford, and went to Mass at the Franciscan church on Iffley Road most mornings, I used to walk there past the Iffley Road playing fields where the record was broken. The little street next to it was called Bannister Close.

  9. Rafe Champion

    Thanks stackja, well worth posting in full!

  10. Macspee

    Those were the days!
    I am sure I recall Landy running on a grass track in Ballarat in bare feet (he had forgotten his spikes) and still ran around 4:03 or thereabouts.
    Landy was in the news Saturday after Saturday and an inspiration to many of us.
    It was both a shock and a thrill when Bannister got there first.
    Then along came the great distance runners – the Williamstown crowd and Ron Clarke et al, and the milers (Elliott, Clarke, Lincoln and others) and the enthusiasm of Franz and Percy. There were some greet juniors at the time who were all caught up in the feeling that to run was almost the be all and end all: but in the end we fell by the wayside – mostly after the Olympics wore off after 3 or 4 years.

    Will we see such talent again?

  11. P

    ’54 was a great year for sport esp with Bannister and Landy breaking the 4minute mile.

    John Landy

    Bannister and Landy

  12. P

    Old School Conservative #2652387, posted on March 5, 2018 at 11:33 am


  13. nemkat

    The first sub four minute mile man.

    More correctly, the first Amateur to run a sub 4 minute Mile.
    Professional runners were doing it in the 1780s.

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