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  #1  
Old 05-06-2004, 06:41 AM
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Default Four Minute Mile

Today is the 50th anniversary of the day when Roger Bannister (now Sir Roger Bannister) of England became the first to run a mile in under 4 minutes, a feat thought to be physiologically impossible by many at the time. Various races and ceremonies are being held around the world to celebrate the historical sporting event.

Some 4-minute milestones and trivia:
  • In 1957 Don Bowden became the first American to break the 4 minute barrier, in a time of 3:58.7.
  • In 1964 Jim Ryun became the first high school 4 minute miler at age 17 with a time of 3:59.7. As a senior the following year, he cut the high school record to 3:55.0, which remained unbroken for 36 years.
  • In 1994 Eamonn Coghlan of Ireland became the first Masters athlete (40+ years old) to break the four-minute barrier, with a run of 3:58.15.
  • In 1997 Daniel Komen of Kenya became the first to run 2 miles in under 8 minutes. The second mile was run in 3:59.4, the same time Bannister ran in his barrier-breaking race.
  • The current world record is 3:43.13 by Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco.
  • The chief timekeeper at Roger Bannister's race was Harold Abrahams, the 1924 100m Olympic gold medalist depicted in the movie Chariots of Fire.
  • Bannister was knighted in 1975 mainly for his contributions as a neurologist, not his athletic achievements two decades before. He was a medical student at the time he broke the world record for the mile.
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Old 05-06-2004, 08:35 AM
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I wonder what made anyone think it was physiologically impossible. I mean, the record then stood at 4:01.4. Were people saying "A 4:01 mile, sure, but no human will EVER run it in 4:00!"?
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Old 05-06-2004, 09:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schleprock
I wonder what made anyone think it was physiologically impossible. I mean, the record then stood at 4:01.4. Were people saying "A 4:01 mile, sure, but no human will EVER run it in 4:00!"?
Well, at some point there is a limit, right? Thus people went with the nice, round number.

So what do people here think that limit is? A recent article I read in Runner's World suggested either 3:30 or 3:39.
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Old 05-06-2004, 10:08 AM
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Depends what you are willing to do to someone or how mutated they can be etc.

Most world record holders like that are to some extent pysiological abnormalities...that give them an edge in a particular area. (ie. World record deep diver lady has a lung capacity x2 normal for her size....australian swimmer has something like size 17 feet (aka Flippers) and if you don't agree with those examples think Kenyan distance runners and Sherpas...)

I would think that 3:30 is possible.
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Old 05-06-2004, 11:09 AM
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If you can find a high enough cliff to jump off, I believe you can go a mile in a little over 18 seconds if you can figure out how to overcome the wind resistance.
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Old 05-06-2004, 01:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ultimate Anyone?
So what do people here think that limit is? A recent article I read in Runner's World suggested either 3:30 or 3:39.
According to a calculus textbook I tought from, the record has been decreasing roughly linearly for the last 70 years. I was not able to draw a conclusion from that.
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Old 05-06-2004, 07:36 PM
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Mile world record progression:

Quote:
1923 ... Paavo Nurmi, Finland, 4:10.4
1931 ... Jules Ladoumegue, France, 4:09.2
1933 ... Jack Lovelock, New Zealand, 4:07.6
1934 ... Glenn Cunningham, United States, 4:06.8
1937 ... Sydney Wooderson, Britain, 4:06.4
1942 ... Gunder Haegg, Sweden, 4:06.2
1942 ... Arne Andersson, Sweden, 4:06.2
1942 ... Haegg, 4:04.6
1943 ... Andersson, 4:02.6
1944 ... Andersson, 4:01.6
1945 ... Haegg, 4:01.4
1954 ... Roger Bannister, Britain, 3:59.4

1954 ... John Landy, Australia, 3:58.0
1957 ... Derek Ibbotson, Britain, 3:57.2
1958 ... Herb Elliott, Australia, 3:54.5
1962 ... Peter Snell, New Zealand, 3:54.4
1964 ... Snell, 3:54.1
1965 ... Michel Jazy, France, 3:53.6
1966 ... Jim Ryun, United States, 3:51.3
1967 ... Ryun, 3:51.1
1975 ... Filbert Bayi, Tanzania, 3:51.0
1975 ... John Walker, New Zealand, 3:49.4
1979 ... Sebastian Coe, Britain, 3:48.95
1980 ... Steve Ovett, Britain, 3:48.8
1981 ... Coe, 3:48.53
1981 ... Ovett, 3:48.40
1981 ... Coe, 3:47.33
1985 ... Steve Cram, Britain, 3:46.32
1993 ... Noureddine Morceli, Algeria, 3:44.39
1999 ... Hicham El Guerrouj, Morocco, 3:43.13
That the record stood at 4:01.4 for 9 years may have contributed to the belief that 4:00 could not be broken. Some believed sub-4:00 was possible, some didn't, but practically everybody would have thought you were a madman if you said one day a man would run 2 miles in under 8 minutes. Now that even that's been done the next question is, will a man run 3 miles in 12 minutes?
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Old 05-06-2004, 08:10 PM
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Here's a claim that the first 4-minute mile was actually run in 1770:

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2.../merron/040506
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Old 05-07-2004, 06:26 AM
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I did some calculations for 3 miles based on the current 5000m world record. The record is 12:39.36, and 5K is about 3.10752 miles (using 1 mile= 1609m). Assuming the same average speed, 3 miles would be completed in 12 minutes and 13.1 seconds.

An actual 3-mile race would be shorter than 5K, so it is expected the average speed would be faster. Therefore the current 5K world record probably represents a capability of 12:11.5 for 3 miles. So a 12-minute 3-mile is definitely more attainable than a 3:30 mile. -- edited to change "That's definitely more attainable" to "So a 12-minute 3-mile..."

However, the 3-mile is so infrequently run -- less frequently than the 2-mile -- that a new 3-mile record will likely come only in the form of a time taken at the 3-mile point in a 5K race.
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Old 05-07-2004, 07:51 AM
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Is 3:43:13 the end of it because we don't race in miles any more?
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