it was 55 years ago today, may 6, 1954, that sir roger bannister (then, merely roger) ran the first mile in under 4 minutes. here is a description of the now famous day at the track from wikipedia:
"This historic event took place on 6 May 1954 during a meet between British AAA and Oxford University at Iffley Road Track in Oxford. It was watched by about 3,000 spectators. With winds up to 25 miles per hour (40 km/h) prior to the event, Bannister had said twice that he favoured not running, to conserve his energy and efforts to break the 4-minute barrier; he would try again at another meet. However, the winds dropped just before the race was scheduled to begin, and Bannister did run. Two other runners, Brasher and Chataway, provided pacing while completing the race. Both went on to establish their own track careers. The race was broadcast live by BBC Radio and commented on by Harold Abrahams, of "Chariots of Fire" fame.
"The stadium announcer for the race was Norris McWhirter, who went on to publish and edit the Guinness Book of Records. He famously "teased" the crowd by drawing out the announcement of the time Bannister ran as long as possible:
'Ladies and gentlemen, here is the result of event 9, the one-mile: 1st, No. 41, R.G. Bannister, Amateur Athletic Association and formerly of Exeter and Merton Colleges, Oxford, with a time which is a new meeting and track record, and which - subject to ratification - will be a new English Native, British National, All-Comers, European, British Empire, and World Record. The time was 3...'
The roar of the crowd drowned out the rest of the announcement. Bannister's time was 3 min 59.4 s."
every runner should find the time to read bannister's book, "the four minute mile" (either the original or expanded 5oth anniversary version). it's a must read.
also, espn classic will broadcast "four minutes" tonight at 9:00 pm, which documents bannister's road to the historic event.
here is a video clip of his amazing accomplishment: