Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Sir Roger Bannister

On this day in 1954, Sir Roger Bannister, a 25 year old medical student became the first man to 
run a mile in less than four minutes. Cheered on by over 3000 spectators at the Iffley Road Sports Stadium, Bannister completed the 'miracle mile' in 3:59:04. His main rival, Australian athlete John Landy broke this record just one month later, however the current record is held by Moroccan, Hicham El Guerrouj who ran a time of 3:43:13 in Rome, 1999. 

For those of you who are up for the challenge, (or like me would simply like to visit), day passes for the 'Roger Bannister' running track can be purchased for approx £3 at the Iffley Rd Sports Stadium.
Today, the stadium remains the central focus for Oxford University sport and includes; a 25 meter swimming pool, a small gym and weights room with state of the art rowing equipment, badminton courts, grass tennis courts, an indoor rock climbing wall, and a grandstand housing a rugby pitch and the famous Roger Bannister running track. The best news of all, although it is not widely advertised, is that membership is open to both students and members of the general public.

Those visiting the Iffley Rd Sports Complex will find this Blue Plaque just outside on Iffley Rd. 
If you look carefully, you'll find lots of these plaques sprinkled throughout Oxfordshire, commemorating the significant people, places and events that have shaped Oxfordshire's past.

Whilst running the first sub-four minute mile was surely one of his greatest achievements,  
Bannister was also the first Chairman of the Sports Council, (now called Sport England) and was knighted for his service in 1975. During his time in Oxford he attended Merton College and became 
a distinguished neurologist and Master of Pembroke College, before retiring in 2001. 

Hungry for more? Check out "The First Four Minutes"
, Roger Bannister's own account of becoming the first man to run a mile in under four minutes.

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