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1954: Three minutes 59.4 seconds

Running a mile in under four minutes was one of athletics' greatest milestones.

The first man to break the almost mythical barrier was Roger Bannister, with a time of 3 minutes 59.4 seconds at Iffley Road Track, Oxford, on 6 May 1954.

The 25-year-old medical student's achievement has not diminished with time - not least because he was the last amateur athlete to break such a significant record.

Bannister - now Sir Roger - retired from athletics shortly after his Iffley Road success to pursue a career in medicine.

Your memories

I was 15 years old, had just left school and started at art school. Leaving school had meant stopping athletics. I was riding home after a game of tennis when a friend called out to me, "Bannister has done the four minute mile."

That was the jolt I needed to return to running. I lived in a dogs-bone cul-de-sac which measured just under 440 yards and so for the next three years I pounded the pavement, stopwatch in hand rolling out the miles and lowering my time a few seconds at a time.

I was nowhere near a record of course but four minutes 29 seconds was the final effort. Bannister was my hero. I bought every daily newspaper on 6 May 1954, and any article which contained pictures and news of Landy and Bannister in Vancouver and the European 1500 metres that September.

I still have that large scrapbook and managed to get his signature in the 1970s. I have even got a few seconds of 9.5mm film taken by my brother of me running on the "dogs-bone" in December 1955. Wonderful memories.
Roy Laming, England

I was a college second year student on the track team. I was at school in Indiana when our coach told us of the record being broken. From that moment on our practice was spirited and each of us ran some of the best practice races ever. I'll never forget it.
Gary Rosenthal, USA


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