May 6, 2016
Today is the 62nd anniversary of one of the greatest achievements in sport, Sir Roger Bannister running the first sub-4-minute mile at the Iffley Road track at Oxford University.
To celebrate, last night we watched the recently released film Bannister: Everest on the Track which is available at Amazon.com (rent or buy on demand, buy on DVD), iTunes here, Google Play here and others).
The film is directed by friend of LetsRun.com Tom Ratcliffe, who is U.S. steeplechase record holder Evan Jager‘s agent. The film puts Bannister’s run in the historical context of what was going on not only in Britain (Britain was exiting the post-war malaise and Everest was scaled for the first time in 1953 and the Queen coronated a few days later), but also in the world of track and field as Bannister felt the need to run sub-4 before Australia’s John Landy. It is all presented in a very manageable one hour.
It’s definitely worth a watch and gave us some goose bumps. While there is video of the sub-4 race, much of the film involves people who were watching the race, in the race (Roger Bannister obviously plays a huge part, but so does the recently deceased pacer Chris Chataway), or impacted by the race (Steve Cram, Seb Coe, Phil Knight), talking about it.
Casual sports fans should enjoy it as should die-hard track fans.
If you’re debating watching it, maybe this will push you over the edge. Ratcliffe told Sports Illustrated that Bannister contacted him and wanted to buy 15 copies of the film. Ratfliffe said, “[Bannister] wanted to give it to his grandchildren because he felt this was the definitive chronicle of his life.” Ratcliffe added that Bannister wrote him saying, “You’ve made my grandchildren’s Christmas much happier by your gift. Many congratulations on a splendid effort.”
If you’re a Bannister diehard you also might want to read Bannister’s own book, The Four Minute Mile where the LRC founders got their initial knowledge of Bannister’s exploits.
The highlight for us from the film when one of the spectators there that day described the sub-4 being announced over the loudspeaker. It is tremendous.
And this wouldn’t be LRC if we didn’t give you a little knowledge we gleaned from the race and film. If you don’t want anything without watching the film, don’t keep reading after the links to buy or stream the film below. (Note: We get a small commission if you buy from the links below).
Splits from the race:
57.7, 1:58.3, 3:00.7 with Brasher going the first 900+ in the lead, and Chataway pacing until the back straightaway. Pacing was different then and the pacers didn’t step off the track or go wide, but stayed in lane 1 and were passed by Bannister on the outside.
Bannister tapered for five days before the race. Bannister also supposedly ran a 2:52 1200m time trial in 1952.
Although Bannister was Sports Illustrated‘s athlete of the 20th century, he was not the BBC Sports Personality of the year in 1954. Somehow that went to pacer Chris Chataway, who set the world record at 5000m later that year.