4 (minute mile)

Roger Bannister breaks the tape at 3 minutes 59.4 seconds, a new world's record.

Roger Bannister breaks the tape at 3 minutes 59.4 seconds, a new world’s record. (Central Press Photo)

1 mile = 1.609344 kilometers

Forbes “compiled a list of the greatest athletic accomplishments of the last 150 years… one feat did emerge as a clear winner: Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute mile.”

“When (Roger) Bannister crossed the finish line of Oxford’s Iffley Road track on May 6, 1954, he could hardly see straight. Completing the mile in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds, he had not only trimmed two seconds off the world record, but also run the world’s first sub-four-minute mile.

“’People thought it was like bouncing off a brick wall,’ explains close rival John Landy, who had come within three seconds of the four-minute mark six times.

“‘It was a sense of relief,’ says Bannister, recalling the momentous event more than 50 years later. ‘There was a mystique, a belief that it couldn’t be done, but I think it was more of a psychological barrier than a physical barrier.’

“Landy, who broke Bannister’s record with a 3 minute 58 second finish only six weeks later, argues otherwise. ‘It has nothing to do with psychology,’ he says. ‘It was just a matter of having the right runners at the right level of training and the right set of circumstances.’”

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