Truth is, Ian Stewart, who won the Emsley Carr mile champion (1970) and who went sub 4 with his brother Peter, also an Emsley Carr Mile champion (1971, 1972), is a big part the reason that the event still exists. Ian began to include the mile in the Crystal Palace Meets and also, when he moved the meet to Bimingham. Gabe Jennings of the USA won it in 2006. To me, the most important points on the mile is the Emsley Carr Book. This book contains the names of all competitors and the signatures of all the winners. It is a history of the Men’s Mile since 1953!
Ian Stewart and David Bedford are two of the main reasons I began to come to British events nealry two decades ago. Both were at the top of their game in terms of putting on track meets and marathons. I wanted to see for myself what the Brits were doing right. I also respected them and their generation of British runners as the true keepers of the sports flame.
This article, by Stuart Weir, keeps you informed about this fine race. The effort to break four minutes for the mile still means you are world class. The endurance and speed, and dedication to putting four laps around a 400 meter track under 60 seconds average a lap is still, even with 521 American males having run sub 4 minutes (approximately 1,500 around the globe). In the 2018 Emsley Carr Mile, thirteen men from nine countries broke four minutes for the mile.
The Emsley Carr Mile is an annual invitational athletics running event held in the United Kingdom over one mile for men. The race has been part of the London Grand Prix since 2008. The race was inaugurated in 1953 by Sir William Carr in memory of his father Sir Emsley Carr, who had been a journalist.
One of the original aims of the race was to provide an opportunity for athletes to break the 4 minute mile. Ironically a year later Roger Bannister did run the first ever sub 4 minute mile but it was not until 1956 that Derek Ibbotson won the race running 3:59.4 that the feat was achieved in the race. As part of the ongoing tradition, the winner of the race signs a red Moroccan leather-bound book.
A look at the winners’ list is like the history of middle-distance running:
Gordon Pirie, GB 1953
Kip Keino, Kenya 1966
Jim Ryan, USA 1967
Filbert Bayi, Tanzania 1975
Sebastian Coe, GB 1977
Steve Ovett, GB 1979 and 1983
John Walker, New Zealand,1987
Said Aouita, Morocco, 1989
Haile Gebrselassie. Ethiopia, 1999
Hitcham El Guerrouj, Morocco 2000, 2001, 2002
Bernard Lagat, USA 2009
Asbel Kiprop, Kenya 2014, 2015
This year’s field of 17 included 9 nationalities. There had never been an Australian winner in the history of the event. Not until this year, when two Australians battled for victory, with Stewart McSweyn running a PR of 3:54.60 to hold off Ryan Gregson in 3:55.10. Paul Chelimo (USA) was third (3:55.96). McSweyn said afterwards: “It is only the second mile I have ever officially done, I have never raced here before so it was going to be a good experience no matter what. But to perform well and get a PR I am pretty happy with that. The track was crazy good, I like it because the crowd sounds really close. When you are running in lane one, it sounds as they are in lane three or four, right on you. I definitely want to do it again if I can”.
The 4 minute mile is now commonplace with 13 runners finishing under that mark in the 2018 race.