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3:59.4: The Quest for the Four-minute Mile

3:59.4: The Quest for the Four-minute Mile

Ref No: 9781903158494

Details: Author: Bob Phillips

Type: Books


Price: £12.95

When Roger Bannister broke four minutes for the mile in 1954 he became the first athlete in history to be featured on the front pages of newspapers throughout the World. It was a feat which was welcomed with as much excitement as the conquering of Everest by Hillary and Tenzing the year before. Bannister's time of 3 minutes 59.4 seconds beat a record which had stood for nine years and broke through a barrier which had begun to seem impregnable. Yet the facts are that such a time should have been run many years before. The record had, in effect, advanced no more than 10 seconds or so in almost 70 years. In 1886 the great professional runner, Walter George, had set a time of 4min 12sec but was reliably reckoned to have beaten 4min 10sec in training; In the 1890s an Irish professional, George Blennerhassett Tincler, was reported as having run 4min 8sec in a time-trial in the USA; Already before the First World War a leading American coach, Jack Moakley, believed that the four-minute mile was possible and British coaches of the 1920s agreed with him; In the 1920s the legendary "Flying Finn", Paavo Nurmi, ran 4min 10.4sec but later said that he thought he could have done 4:04; The Swede, Gunder Hagg, who brought the record down to 4min 1. 3sec during the years of the Second World War, should have run 3:57, according to one of the most eminent of American coaches and authors; After Bannister's record, the self-proclaimed Australian "Conditioner of Men", Percy Cerutty, who coached Herb Elliott, was openly talking in the early 1960s of 3:40 for the mile; The World record is now 3min 43.13sec by the Moroccan, Hicham El Guerrouj, and both his time and his country of origin would have been unimaginable for much of the history of athletics. But has the progress in miling really been as spectacular as it first appears? Is the 3:40 mile - or even the 3:30 mile - likely in the next few years? Who remembers that a mile was run in 3min 31sec more than 20 years ago? 2004 sees the 50th anniversary of Roger Bannister's "first four minutes" and there will be enormous Worldwide interest in the celebrations. A new book by one of the leading historians and authors in athletics, Bob Phillips, will be published and will describe in detail the history of miling from the 18th Century onwards, when the first claims to have run a mile in four minutes were already being made. With a wealth of anecdotes, and quoting from the first-hand statements of the mile record-holders from Walter George onwards, this book will bring to vivid life the achievements of a multitude of runners in the most famous of all athletic events. Profusely illustrated, the book makes reference to more than 400 men who have contributed to the quest for the four-minute mile...and beyond.


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