Page last updated at 20:15 GMT, Thursday, 10 May 2007 21:15 UK

Track named after running legend

Sir Roger Bannister
Sir Roger ran to keep fit until he broke his ankle in 1975

Record-breaking runner Sir Roger Bannister has presided over the opening of the re-furbished running track where he ran the first sub-four minute mile.

Sir Roger was joined by Olympic gold medal winner Sir Sebastian Coe officially to re-open the Iffley Road running track in Oxford on Thursday.

The track will now be called the Sir Roger Bannister running track.

Sir Roger said the old surfaces he ran on in 1954 were like porridge and that he would love to run on the new track.

'Cold porridge'

Sir Roger said: "It's a great honour to be allowed to have my name associated with the track in-perpetuity.

"Old cinder tracks, when it was wet, they were rather like the consistency of cold porridge, and on the rare occasions it was sunny, the track was really hard.

"This is a uniform surface. Water drains off it and it gives a certain recoil."

On 6 May 1954 Sir Roger, then a 25-year-old medical student, became the first person to run a mile in under four minutes. His time was 3mins 59.4 seconds.

Roger Bannister in 1954
The "miracle mile" was watched by about 3000 spectators

Sir Roger was running for the Amateur Athletic Association against Oxford University during their annual competition.

The sub-four minute mile had long evaded runners and his time became known as the "miracle mile".

At the opening ceremony, Lord Coe said: "It was one of the first images I remember, the black and white television.

"People at the [running] club used to talk about Roger and athletes that actually competed with Roger, who were then coaching in the system, would talk about him.

"You couldn't really escape it, and for good reason."


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