May 6, 1954


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May 6, 1954

Postby Django » Wed May 08, 2013 9:02 pm

By coincidence, I was re-reading Bannister's very good autobiography, and realized that we're just past the anniversary of the first four minute mile.
I know that, on this board, we're very sophisticated (and, perhaps, jaded), but it's easy to forget the excitement that Bannister's run generated, even among those who don't normally care at all about our sport.
I was lucky enough to have attended a banquet in London honoring the 50th anniversary, and it was attended by virtually all the living world record holders in the mile, along with such greats as Ron Clarke.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby lonewolf » Wed May 08, 2013 9:24 pm

People typically recall where/when they hear of major happenings. I would certainly have been interested in this momentous event but I have racked my feeble mind and cannot recall where I learned of it, except that I was in Uncle Sams Rifle Club,probably somewhere in Germany.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby Per Andersen » Wed May 08, 2013 10:37 pm

lonewolf wrote:People typically recall where/when they hear of major happenings. I would certainly have been interested in this momentous event but I have racked my feeble mind and cannot recall where I learned of it, except that I was in Uncle Sams Rifle Club,probably somewhere in Germany.

Nothing on AFN?
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby kuha » Thu May 09, 2013 4:50 am

Django wrote: I was lucky enough to have attended a banquet in London honoring the 50th anniversary, and it was attended by virtually all the living world record holders in the mile, along with such greats as Ron Clarke.


I believe you meant the 40th anniversary--that was, indeed, a fabulous event in 1994.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby Daisy » Thu May 09, 2013 6:12 am

kuha wrote:indeed, a fabulous event in 1994.

So next year you'll get to do it all over again for 60.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby kuha » Thu May 09, 2013 6:22 am

Daisy wrote:
kuha wrote:indeed, a fabulous event in 1994.

So next year you'll get to do it all over again for 60.


Sadly, I'm not sure anyone will get to do it all over again. Apparently, Bannister had to be really talked into it back in '94 and there was no remotely comparable event in 2004 (was there anything at all?). It would be wonderful to have another big event in 2014, but I wouldn't bet on it. Remarkably, in the meantime, we've only lost two of the 1994 featured attendees: Wooderson and Andersson.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby catson52 » Thu May 09, 2013 7:22 am

kuha wrote:
Daisy wrote:
kuha wrote:indeed, a fabulous event in 1994.

So next year you'll get to do it all over again for 60.


Sadly, I'm not sure anyone will get to do it all over again. Apparently, Bannister had to be really talked into it back in '94 and there was no remotely comparable event in 2004 (was there anything at all?). It would be wonderful to have another big event in 2014, but I wouldn't bet on it. Remarkably, in the meantime, we've only lost two of the 1994 featured attendees: Wooderson and Andersson.


Gunder Hagg passed away in 2004. I believe he and Ovett (any more?) did not attend the event in 1994.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby kuha » Thu May 09, 2013 7:26 am

Right. Of the living WR holders, only Haegg (sick) and Ovett (too busy, ??) were not there.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby Jackaloupe » Thu May 09, 2013 9:49 am

I recall it vividly: not the moment I learned earlier that morning, but sitting in a HS classroom writing the splits on the cardboard back of one of those little yellow pads--or maybe just that amazing final lap (as getting the splits from the NY Herald Tribune seems unlikely).
The blustery wind was noted, but in the Pic it seemed Bannister's hair was afly from the sheer speed. First time I'd heard of Chris Chataway, or Chris Brasher (was it, as that name comes back as I write, certainly the first time that recall's come up in decades;~), his able pacers.
I've always recalled how he'd gone Rock-climbing a few days prior, just as Jim Lea went Body-surfing prior to his 440 WR shortly thereafter.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby catson52 » Thu May 09, 2013 2:13 pm

Was a school boy in my early teens in London. Don't remember where I heard of the sub 4 first, but saw it soon thereafter on BBC TV. Brasher, and more so Chataway were pretty well known in the UK. The latter especially as the hard luck boy of the Helsinki 5K.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby kuha » Thu May 09, 2013 2:32 pm

I was 1 year and about 10 months old. Sadly, I don't recall reading or hearing anything about it!

However, when I was about 12 or 13 and just getting some slight interest in sports, I recall a conversation with my father about it. He impressed on me how big the event had been, and that it was a great human and statistical barrier. I asked what the time had been, and he said "3:59.4." I thought a little and said, "He didn't make it by much." And my father replied: "He didn't need to; the point is that he did it." And of course it was.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby bambam » Thu May 09, 2013 3:03 pm

kuha wrote:I thought a little and said, "He didn't make it by much." And my father replied: "He didn't need to; the point is that he did it." And of course it was.


Hilary and Norgay didn't make it by much either - but they did.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby gh » Thu May 09, 2013 4:53 pm

I've told this semi-related tale before. I don't remember this day at all (being only 7), but I recall with vivid clarity Bannister/Landy a few months later in The Miracle Mile.

We were on vacation (a couple of hundred miles from Vancouver) and I remember wondering why my parents kept talking about the railing that led up to my bedroom (bannister). My eidetic memories tell me we were in the Okanagan somewhere near Osoyoos or Oliver (or the third leg of the Big O trilogy, Oroville, Washington).
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby rsb2 » Thu May 09, 2013 7:51 pm

Ditto on not being aware of the first sub-4. But, by the time of the Empire Games, our neighbour two doors away, Donnie Thompson, had the first TV in the neighbourhood, and I have a clear memory of watching the Miracle Mile, and finding it tremendously exciting to an 8 year old who loved sport !!!
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby Bruce Kritzler » Thu May 09, 2013 8:39 pm

The single most important happening in track and field history?
The cover of the first issue of Sports Illustrated, also.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby Per Andersen » Thu May 09, 2013 10:09 pm

I remember exactly where I was when the news came of Bannister's sub-4. The sports news on Norwegian radio came on each night at 22.10 when I was normally asleep. My dad did something I never would have thought he would do, he woke me up and told me that Bannister had run the "Dream Mile" as it was called in Scandinavia. How could I go back to sleep after that?

I did not know about the attempt at Iffley Road but I had closely followed Landy and Bannister for 2 seasons. Landy had arrived in Finland just a couple of days before May 6th and he was just waiting for the weather to warm up. He ran a couple of 4.01,6s in the following weeks, best times ever for him. The Stockholm newspapers my dad read had terrific coverage of Landy getting ready. At one point Landy was visting a track and they asked him what he thought of it. He said it looked pretty good. That got a a laugh as they had not completed the spring tune up of the track after the winter.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby Django » Fri May 10, 2013 2:46 pm

As others have pointed out, I made a typo when I mentioned attending what was actually the 40th anniversary banquet.
The feat of being the first under 4 minutes piqued my interest in running, and my own attempts at running a sub-4 (lamentably, never even close), and also led to life-long friendships.
That 40th banquet was amazing! I remember speaking with Landy, Snell, Ryan, Delaney, Coughlin, and Clarke, among others that night, and I took a video of Bannister's after-dinner talk, which was articulate and funny. It's too bad that there won't (apparently) be another occasion like it!
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby Daisy » Fri May 10, 2013 2:54 pm

Was the banquet in one of the colleges?
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby Conor Dary » Fri May 10, 2013 3:52 pm

Daisy wrote:Was the banquet in one of the colleges?


kuha would know, but I think it was in London.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby kuha » Fri May 10, 2013 4:23 pm

It was at a fancy hotel in London--either Thurs or Fri night, can't recall which. Then, on the Saturday, there was a get-together at Iffley Road, with a "legends mile" and a few other activities.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby norunner » Sat May 11, 2013 11:58 am

Bruce Kritzler wrote:The single most important happening in track and field history?
The cover of the first issue of Sports Illustrated, also.
Why would that be? I was born much later and i am not american/english, so maybe i am missing something but why was this race more important than the first man under 10 seconds over 100m or under 13 min over 5000 ?
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby lovetorun » Sat May 11, 2013 1:45 pm

Of course it's a judgement call re: what the greatest acomplishment in track and field history is but...I would argue that the first sub 4 mile may be it.

Because the 4 minute mile barrier was huge...people wondered and talked about it for many years...and some experts said it wasn't humanly possible. So there was tremendous interest, not only among track fans but also the general public.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby lonewolf » Sat May 11, 2013 1:58 pm

I vote for the 4:00 mile. Nice round number. 4 laps in 60. A distance people can relate to. So many men, so close for so long.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby kuha » Sat May 11, 2013 3:07 pm

norunner wrote:so maybe i am missing something but why was this race more important than the first man under 10 seconds over 100m or under 13 min over 5000 ?


There's no contest here. The first man under 10 seconds? Do you mean yards or meters? Do you mean hand-timed or auto? What about altitude marks? Etc. And, after all that, who really knows the answer except for the ultra-hard-core here?

As for the first guy under 13 minutes, yes, "we" know about Aouita in Rome, but it is safe to say that NO ONE who is not already a fan of the sport would have the slightest clue about this.

People can grouse all they like about Bannister and the mile. But none of that grousing will change the fact that, historically, May 6, 1954, remains THE benchmark achievement in the entire history of the sport. When the larger public is taken into account, nothing except Beamon's jump comes remotely close.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby Conor Dary » Sat May 11, 2013 4:25 pm

kuha wrote:
norunner wrote:so maybe i am missing something but why was this race more important than the first man under 10 seconds over 100m or under 13 min over 5000 ?


There's no contest here. The first man under 10 seconds? Do you mean yards or meters? Do you mean hand-timed or auto? What about altitude marks? Etc. And, after all that, who really knows the answer except for the ultra-hard-core here?

As for the first guy under 13 minutes, yes, "we" know about Aouita in Rome, but it is safe to say that NO ONE who is not already a fan of the sport would have the slightest clue about this.

People can grouse all they like about Bannister and the mile. But none of that grousing will change the fact that, historically, May 6, 1954, remains THE benchmark achievement in the entire history of the sport. When the larger public is taken into account, nothing except Beamon's jump comes remotely close.


Sums it up pretty well. Hand timing problems and 2 distances. And yes Aouita is a trivia answer few would answer.

Frankly, I find sub 7:30 more interesting. Sub 60 laps for 7 and a half laps.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby lonewolf » Sat May 11, 2013 6:21 pm

Conor Dary wrote:[Frankly, I find sub 7:30 more interesting. Sub 60 laps for 7 and a half laps.

I agree, it is a superior performance but there have been many superior performances at many distances since the first 4 minute mile. We are talking about a general public milestone.

Besides, 7 and 1/2 laps is as illogical as 3 and 3/4 laps. :)
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby Django » Sun May 12, 2013 2:41 pm

With regard to the site of the banquet, it was in a posh hotel in London, but I've forgotten the name of the hotel. It was just to the east of Hyde Park, if that helps any.
I agree that many later performances in T&F were superior to the first sub-4min mile, but Bannister's run captured the attention of the general public (and of this 12 yo boy at the time).
Those who lived in non-UK or non-US countries were, I'm sure, less interested, because, to them, the mile was a strange distance. I think that I'd read somewhere that, when Laszlo Tabori became the third man through the barrier, he wasn't too excited, because the distance was foreign to him!
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby norunner » Wed May 15, 2013 6:36 am

kuha wrote:
norunner wrote:so maybe i am missing something but why was this race more important than the first man under 10 seconds over 100m or under 13 min over 5000 ?


There's no contest here. The first man under 10 seconds? Do you mean yards or meters? Do you mean hand-timed or auto? What about altitude marks? Etc. And, after all that, who really knows the answer except for the ultra-hard-core here?

As for the first guy under 13 minutes, yes, "we" know about Aouita in Rome, but it is safe to say that NO ONE who is not already a fan of the sport would have the slightest clue about this.

People can grouse all they like about Bannister and the mile. But none of that grousing will change the fact that, historically, May 6, 1954, remains THE benchmark achievement in the entire history of the sport. When the larger public is taken into account, nothing except Beamon's jump comes remotely close.
So i sent an email to 20 friends, asking them "Who was the first man to run a mile below 4 min". I also told them it is for a study so its very important they don't google the answer. Not one of them knew the answer. 16 of them are German, 2 Austrian, one Suisse and one Dutch, that may explain it. Maybe Bannister is/was a huge deal in English speaking countries but not in those parts of the world where the mile is nothing more than a novelty.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby Per Andersen » Wed May 15, 2013 12:11 pm

norunner wrote:So i sent an email to 20 friends, asking them "Who was the first man to run a mile below 4 min". I also told them it is for a study so its very important they don't google the answer. Not one of them knew the answer. 16 of them are German, 2 Austrian, one Suisse and one Dutch, that may explain it. Maybe Bannister is/was a huge deal in English speaking countries but not in those parts of the world where the mile is nothing more than a novelty.

Are your friends interested in track? How old are they?
Anyway, you are dead wrong in calling the mile just a novelty in non English speaking countries.
Who came closest to 4 minutes before Bannister? Two Swedes, runners you and your 20 friends have obviously never heard of.

Track fans the world over have always had an understanding of the mile because it's so close to the 1500. Compared to the very orderly 4 laps to the mile the 1500 always have been an awkward distance.
I grew up in a non English speaking country and I can tell you the lead-up to 4 minutes and what Bannister did was a huge deal.
There are no other "barriers" that can be compared. 8 meters in the LJ was big but not necessarily in English speaking countries. Sub 30 mins in the 10000 was something but it happened when the World War started.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby Daisy » Wed May 15, 2013 12:16 pm

norunner wrote:Maybe Bannister is/was a huge deal in English speaking countries but not in those parts of the world where the mile is nothing more than a novelty.

The implication here is that your friends know something about track and field, and possibly know of records in the 1500m. First sub 3:30?

But possibly they just have a passing interest in track and field, and don't remember any land mark records in any events?
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby exdrake » Wed May 15, 2013 12:32 pm

Frankly, I find sub 7:30 more interesting. Sub 60 laps for 7 and a half laps.

Strange, Conor, you would mention this when Daniel Komon broke 8:00 for two miles/8 laps. I will never forget the tiny mention that feat received in the local paper.

Of course Komon ran 10 secs under 60/lap for 7 1/2 laps.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby kuha » Wed May 15, 2013 12:34 pm

Per Andersen wrote:
norunner wrote:So i sent an email to 20 friends, asking them "Who was the first man to run a mile below 4 min". I also told them it is for a study so its very important they don't google the answer. Not one of them knew the answer. 16 of them are German, 2 Austrian, one Suisse and one Dutch, that may explain it. Maybe Bannister is/was a huge deal in English speaking countries but not in those parts of the world where the mile is nothing more than a novelty.

Are your friends interested in track? How old are they?
Anyway, you are dead wrong in calling the mile just a novelty in non English speaking countries.
Who came closest to 4 minutes before Bannister? Two Swedes, runners you and your 20 friends have obviously never heard of.


Agree completely. It would be interesting to do a genuinely "scientific" poll on the matter. But I would guess that such a poll would have to ask questions like:
-What is the degree of your interest in the sport of t&f, on a scale of 0 to 10?
-Can you name any notable Olympic gold medalists or world record holders?
-Are you more familiar with some individual events, such as the 100m, high jump, etc.?
-How many important names in the sport from the 20th century can you name?
-Are there any world record benchmarks that you consider particularly noteworthy or memorable?
Etc.

With this as background, then the fact that they do or do not know the names of Bannister, Zatopek, Lewis, etc., becomes more meaningful, I would think.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby norunner » Wed May 15, 2013 12:34 pm

Per Andersen wrote:
norunner wrote:So i sent an email to 20 friends, asking them "Who was the first man to run a mile below 4 min". I also told them it is for a study so its very important they don't google the answer. Not one of them knew the answer. 16 of them are German, 2 Austrian, one Suisse and one Dutch, that may explain it. Maybe Bannister is/was a huge deal in English speaking countries but not in those parts of the world where the mile is nothing more than a novelty.

Are your friends interested in track? How old are they?
Anyway, you are dead wrong in calling the mile just a novelty in non English speaking countries.
Who came closest to 4 minutes before Bannister? Two Swedes, runners you and your 20 friends have obviously never heard of.

Track fans the world over have always had an understanding of the mile because it's so close to the 1500. Compared to the very orderly 4 laps to the mile the 1500 always have been an awkward distance.
I grew up in a non English speaking country and I can tell you the lead-up to 4 minutes and what Bannister did was a huge deal.
There are no other "barriers" that can be compared. 8 meters in the LJ was big but not necessarily in English speaking countries. Sub 30 mins in the 10000 was something but it happened when the World War started.
How many mile races were there last year in Sweden? Italy? Germany? France? Portugal? Russia? I can think of one, in Oslo. That's a novelty.
One of the Swedes you mentioned is probably Gunder Hägg, whose name i only know because he is one of those three Swedes who kept breaking the 1500m world record during WW2. And if there was such an understanding of the mile why is nobody in Europe outside of the UK running it? 'I never heard anyone regard the 1500m as awkward, by that logic 5000m are awkward too, so are 3000m (H) and so is the mile because its not 4 laps, its 4 laps + 9 meters.
But my point is, Bannisters mile may have been a huge deal in the 50s and may still be a huge deal in countries where the mile is still used, but its not one in the rest of the world (one of the friends i asked is a big T&F fan, i watch all the big major championships with him, he guessed Paavo Nurmi).
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby noone » Wed May 15, 2013 1:46 pm

Bruce Kritzler wrote:The single most important happening in track and field history?
The cover of the first issue of Sports Illustrated, also.


The most important happening in track and field history? Surely you mean this as a joke. What do we have? A blatantly rabbited "race", with a WR in a non-Olympic event, and within a few months the record was broken. The sub-4-minute mile has become commonplace, and far more frequent than the 28-foot long jump, for example.

Only "fans" with a very superficial knowledge of our sport think this was any more remarkable than, say, Rick Wohlhuter's 2:13.9 1000m WR in 1974 -- also a non-Olympic event but a mark that has stood the test of time far better.

Being the first under 4:00.00 is a wholly artificial "barrier", and no more difficult than being the first under 4:02.00 or 3:55.71.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby BBTM media » Wed May 15, 2013 2:46 pm

noone wrote:
Bruce Kritzler wrote:The single most important happening in track and field history? The cover of the first issue of Sports Illustrated, also.


The most important happening in track and field history? Surely you mean this as a joke. /quote]

No joke; per the media and general public, it certainly was and is. What has been bigger in the sport and still resonates so strongly and regularly? Search "Roger Bannister" and you will find plenty of articles on Bannister and the first sub-4 (not all sports-related); you can find a small sampling of such articles at his BBTM bio - note the Forbes Nov 2005 article.

http://bringbackthemile.com/athletes/de ... _bannister

In short, no other track & field event has had an as impactful, still resonating Roger Bannister moment. As mentioned, Beamon's shocking 29-footer comes the closest, at the time and post-leap, but it is still a Mile away (sorry, but it's true, and pardon the pun).
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby norunner » Wed May 15, 2013 3:53 pm

BBTM media wrote:
noone wrote:No joke; per the media and general public, it certainly was and is. What has been bigger in the sport and still resonates so strongly and regularly? Search "Roger Bannister" and you will find plenty of articles on Bannister and the first sub-4 (not all sports-related); you can find a small sampling of such articles at his BBTM bio - note the Forbes Nov 2005 article.
Once again, which media are you talking about? In 1954 the "Hamburger Tagesblatt" was the biggest newspaper in Germany. Luckily they put scans of all their issues dating back to 1948 online. So i checked, on may 7th 1954 the article about Bannisters WR appeared on page 16: http://www.abendblatt.de/archiv/pdf.php ... HA_016.pdf
You'd think an earth shattering event like the first man below 4 min over the mile would deserve the front page. On the other hand, Heinz Fütterer won two gold medals at the ECs in Bern that same year and he did make it to the front page: http://www.abendblatt.de/archiv/pdf.php ... HA_001.pdf
And since someone mentioned Bob Beamon, he also made the front page with his 8.90: http://www.abendblatt.de/archiv/pdf.php ... HA_001.pdf
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby kuha » Wed May 15, 2013 3:55 pm

noone wrote:
Bruce Kritzler wrote:The single most important happening in track and field history?
The cover of the first issue of Sports Illustrated, also.


The most important happening in track and field history? Surely you mean this as a joke. What do we have? A blatantly rabbited "race", with a WR in a non-Olympic event, and within a few months the record was broken. The sub-4-minute mile has become commonplace, and far more frequent than the 28-foot long jump, for example.

Only "fans" with a very superficial knowledge of our sport think this was any more remarkable than, say, Rick Wohlhuter's 2:13.9 1000m WR in 1974 -- also a non-Olympic event but a mark that has stood the test of time far better.

Being the first under 4:00.00 is a wholly artificial "barrier", and no more difficult than being the first under 4:02.00 or 3:55.71.


:lol: :roll: :lol:

For the umpteenth time, no amount of grousing or nay-saying changes the actual facts here: Bannister's 3:59.4 is the benchmark achievement in the entire history of the sport. No amount of carping, kicking, or screaming will change that fact.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby Pego » Wed May 15, 2013 5:58 pm

noone wrote:Only "fans" with a very superficial knowledge of our sport think this was any more remarkable than, say, Rick Wohlhuter's 2:13.9 1000m WR in 1974 -- also a non-Olympic event but a mark that has stood the test of time far better.


Well, I must be a "fan" with a very superficial knowledge of our sport" then. I did not know that.
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby kuha » Wed May 15, 2013 6:01 pm

Pego wrote:
noone wrote:Only "fans" with a very superficial knowledge of our sport think this was any more remarkable than, say, Rick Wohlhuter's 2:13.9 1000m WR in 1974 -- also a non-Olympic event but a mark that has stood the test of time far better.


Well, I must be a "fan" with a very superficial knowledge of our sport" then. I did not know that.


:lol:
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Re: May 6, 1954

Postby BBTM media » Wed May 15, 2013 6:26 pm

norunner wrote:Once again, which media are you talking about? In 1954 the "Hamburger Tagesblatt" was the biggest newspaper in Germany. Luckily they put scans of all their issues dating back to 1948 online. So i checked, on may 7th 1954 the article about Bannisters WR appeared on page 16: http://www.abendblatt.de/archiv/pdf.php ... HA_016.pdf
You'd think an earth shattering event like the first man below 4 min over the mile would deserve the front page. On the other hand, Heinz Fütterer won two gold medals at the ECs in Bern that same year and he did make it to the front page: http://www.abendblatt.de/archiv/pdf.php ... HA_001.pdf


What media? The media from 1954 to the present who have written (and will continue to write) about Bannister and the sub-4 minute Mile. Using a German newspaper for your point is a specious example, at best; did enjoy the Mile WR table in the article. No offense to Heinz Fütterer, but he, like other world class T&F athletes, has/had no Bannister-like moment and later landmark/standard like the sub-4 minute Mile.
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