by Roger Bannister

Oxford University Sports Ground, Iffley Road, Oxford

Roger Bannister was born in Harrow, Middlesex in 1929. In 1946 he went up to Exeter College, Oxford to read medicine, and devoted his spare time to athletics, becoming an accomplished middle-distance runner. In the decade that followed, Bannister was at the forefront of athletes determined to run a mile in under four minutes. On 6 May 1954 running for the Amateur Athletics Association against Oxford University and paced by two friends, Chris Chattaway and Chris Brasher, he broke all records for the mile. He became the first man to run a mile in under four minutes, in 3.59.4 seconds on the Iffley Road running track (below) at the Oxford University Sports Centre.

Iffley Road race track

The record for the mile was then broken by the Australian, John Landy, but in the Commonwealth Games later in 1954, Bannister defeated Landy in a superb race to win the gold medal. Both men again ran a sub-four minute mile. Bannister then gave up serious athletics, although he continued to run into the 1970s. In later years he concentrated on medicine, becoming a distinguished consultant neurologist in London. He was knighted for his services to neurology in 1975 and returned to Oxford as Master of Pembroke College 1985–1993.

Source: R. Bannister: The Four Minute Mile, Fiftieth Anniversary Edition (2004)

The plaque was unveiled at the Oxford University Sports Ground, Iffley Road, Oxford on 12 May 2004 (the day on which he was granted the Freedom of the City of Oxford) by Sir Roger Bannister.

Sub-four minute mile plaque

Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board

Here at the
Iffley Road Track
the first sub-four minute mile
was run on
6th May 1954

University of Oxford

© Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board


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