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Roger Bannister: Video of the First Sub 4-Minute Mile

I’ve recently been listening to the audiobook version of “The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It” by Neal Bascomb. The book recounts the story of Roger Bannister, John Landy, and Wes Santee as they competed to become the first runner to break the 4-minute mile barrier. It’s a great book, and the recounting of Bannister’s successful bid (3:59.4) on May 6, 1954 at the Iffley Road Track in Oxford, England is excellent (I’ll post a more complete review when I finish the book). I was surprised to discover that video of the race exists, and two different versions of this landmark moment in running history are presented below. Enjoy!

The first version is the classic “newsreel” recount of the event.

The second version is a replay of almost the entire race with no narration, set to the title song from “Chariots of Fire”.

If you’re wondering, the current World Record for the mile is 3:43:13, set by Hicham El Guerrouj in a race in Rome in 1999. You can watch this too:

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

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  1. Steve Nicholas says:

    Great post, Pete! I posted something about Roger Bannister’s run from a different perspective earlier this year, but it is great that you were actually able to find the footage of almost the entire race.

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