First Man to Run Mile in Under 4 Minutes Dies

Britain's Sir Roger Bannister broke the barrier in 1954
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 4, 2018 6:30 AM CST
First Man to Run Mile in Under 4 Minutes Dies
In this 2014 file photo, Roger Bannister poses for a picture during the launch of the Westminster Mile run, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Bannister's record of being the first man to run a sub-four minute mile in May 1954, at Paddington Recreation Ground in London.   (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

Britain's Roger Bannister, the first runner to break the 4-minute barrier in the mile, has died at age 88. Bannister's family said in a statement that he died peacefully on Saturday in Oxford. On a windy late afternoon in Oxford on May 6, 1954, Bannister ran four laps on a cinder track in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds to crack the mythical 4-minute mile—a feat many had thought humanly impossible, reports the AP. "There is not a single athlete of my generation who was not inspired by Roger and his achievements both on and off the track," said Lord Sebastian Coe, the holder of a 3:47:33 mile he ran in 1981.

Indeed, Bannister's record stood for just 46 days, but as the BBC puts it, "his place in athletics history was assured." A medical student who went on to have a long and distinguished career as a neurologist, Bannister viewed running as more of a hobby, but used his medical knowledge to inform his training and break down the mechanics of running. A few months after his record in 1954, Bannister beat Australian rival John Landy in the "Miracle Mile" or "Mile of the Century" at the Empire Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, as both men ran under 4 minutes.

(More Roger Bannister stories.)

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