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Sunday, August 8, 2021

"Mile of the Century" Celebrated


 By Harry Cummins

     Sixty-seven years ago today, before a packed stadium of 35,000 in Vancouver, Canada, they held a foot-race that captivated the world.

     Billed as the "Mile of the Century", it matched the two best milers in the world before there was Mondo track surfaces and 'super spikes' When it was over, Roger Bannister of England edged John Landy of Australia 3:58.8 to 3:59.6.  It was the first time in history that two men broke the hallowed 4 minute barrier in the same race.

     Today, as the world still revels in the Tokyo Olympic mile feats of runners like Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Timothy Cheruiyot, Josh Kerr, and Cole Hocker, history will remember fondly the Miracle Mile of 1954.  For Bannister, the first man to break the 4 minute barrier, it was his second, and last, sub-4 minute mile he ever ran.

     Many will remember that Landy had led for most of the race.  At the final turn, he looked over his inside shoulder to check where Bannister was and was suddenly passed on his right.  A bronze statue of the exact moment Landy glanced back now stands outside the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver.

     Landy once joked that while Lot's wife was turned in to a pillar of salt for looking back: "I am probably the only one ever turned into bronze for looking back."

     For the rest of us mile junkies, there is no such risk looking back to August 8, 1954.  


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