Jeff Benjamin Speaks to Five of America's Great Milers, and How They Will Remember Sir Roger Bannister


RunBlogRun opines: At the age of 88, Sir Roger Bannister died, on March 4, 2018. The news resonated around the world. We were in England, his home, and the tributes were particularly touching. Steve Cram and Seb Coe, on BBC Sports, noted that Sir Roger Bannister once teased them that if he, Sir Roger, had both the modern shoes and modern tracks, he could break their records. Seb Coe noted that he was a very clever man.

His training was light compared to now, almost all high quality, and nothing over 45 minutes. He only ran five days a week, yet, he achieved more than any one before him.

Here are some thought s from from some of the finest milers in US history on Sir Roger Bannister and his legacy.

image1-2.jpegJim Ryun and Sir Roger Bannister, circa 1967

image2-2.jpegThe signed Roger Bannister framed pic proudly on display in the Webb family home (Pic Courtesy Of Alan Webb)

Five of America's Great Milers Remember Sir Roger Bannister - by Jeff Benjamin- 3/4

The late Sir Roger Bannister's 3:59.4 performance in 1954 changed everything!

By breaking the vaunted Sub 4 Minute Mile barrier, Sir Roger was able to, as Sebastian Coe put it, "Make the impossible possible!"

Now, 68 years later, there are close to 5,000 men who've followed Sir Roger's inspiration through that threshold, showing that breaking 4 minutes is still a challenging standard to acquire.

Below are tributes to Sir Roger from six of America's greatest Milers, men who no doubt were inspired by Bannister's barrier breaking performance.
Jim Ryun (3:51.1)
"A signed photo of Dr. Bannister graces our family living room wall as a reminder that those of us who followed him stand on his shoulders. He made the massive breakthrough that allowed us to imagine and dream of "What's possible now?". It's hard to appreciate the strength, both mental and physical, that it takes to be the first one to make the breakthrough.
At our Ryun running camps we explain that Dr. Bannister felt like we all do .We had those great accomplishments that were just snapshots of our lives, but that was just the beginning of our lives. He showed us all that we can also do other things successfully too."

Joe Falcon (3:49.83)

"I am Honored to share some thoughts. In the early 90's our Arkansas Team was honored to meet Dr. Bannister at the Penn Relays. The meet honored him and Coach McDonnell arranged for us to meet him. He was a humble champion who was a groundbreaker and Ambassador for the sport. His achievement was only magnified by the manner in which he humbly lived his life and invested in the lives of others. He truly is one of the greatest Ambassadors this sport will ever have.

Marty Liquori (3:52.2)
"Roger Bannister meant so much to the world. He actually transcended Running. In 1954, with Hillary climbing to the top of Mount Everest and Bannister breaking 4 minutes all within 6 months of each other it proved that anything was possible, especially to that generation.
I met him at the Miami Mile with Peter Snell back in the early 90's. My coach Freddy Dwyer was still running when he met Coach Franz Stampfl who introduced him to the interval training which he did with Bannister, Brasher and Chataway. Stampfl coached Dwyer through the mail and Dwyer brought interval training to the United States.
You know, Bannister was so different from us when I was running. He was a medical student who got in a 1/2 hour of training a day...Another World!"

Steve Scott (3:47.69)
"I met Roger Bannister and outside of Ali, Bannister is the most known athlete of all time! He was a tremendous inspiration to me as a youngster, especially before I first broke the 4 minute barrier. The most striking thing about him was his humility, something today's athletes could sure use a lot more of!!"

Alan Webb (3:46.91)
"A sad day. I never met Sir Bannister but his influence on me was great. I have a signed photo from his sub 4 race. Bannister's first sub 4 represents the beginning of the modern era of track and field. All marks are either before or after that race. Running a sub 4 min mile is a right of passage for all elite middle distance runners. All middle distance runners marks are either before or after running a sub 4 min mile.

Thank you Roger for taking this important step for our sport. We pray to God that He has a place for you in heaven."

Craig Masback (3:52.11)
"Sir Roger Bannister is best known for his achievement in running history's first sub-four, but his legacy includes his groundbreaking work as a physician, his leadership of the British Sports Council, and his early and vigorous anti-doping advocacy. Sir Roger is the archetypal example of how breaking barriers can be a prelude to a career serving sport and humanity. Sir Roger was in attendance on the day I ran my first sub-four mile at Oxford Iffley Road track, and I was privileged to get to know him. My sympathies to his wife, Moira, and his entire family."

Leave a comment

Wake up to RunBlogRun's news in your inbox. Sign up for our newsletter and we'll keep you informed about the Sport you love.

Subscribe to RunBlogRun's Global News Feed

* indicates required