Oxford celebrates 70 years since Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile

ITV Meridian's Mike Pearse reports from Oxford

Thousands of runners have come together to celebrate the life and legacy of Sir Roger Bannister on the 70th anniversary of his record-breaking four-minute mile.

People of all ages and abilities took part in the 'Bannister Community Mile' mass running event organised by Oxford University Athletic Club (OUAC) and the University of Oxford, with support from Oxfordshire County Council.

The runners departed from St Aldate’s, progressed down Oxford’s High Street before finishing on Iffley Road.

They collected their finishers’ medal on the Iffley Road Track where Sir Roger clocked three minutes 59.4 seconds on May 6 1954.

Sir Roger Bannister's 4 minute-mile was one of the greatest sporting achievements of the 20th century Credit: PA

Athletes from across the country also competed in a series of track races organised by OUAC and the British Milers’ Club, supported by England Athletics.

The races will encompass heats for athletes aged nine and over, as well as para-athletes and high-level amateur runners.

The meet concluded with men’s and women’s elite miles, where a new generation of athletes tested their limits under the watchful eye of past mile world record holders.

Sir Roger was a medical student in Oxford when he set the record.

He went on to have a distinguished career in neurological medicine, and was the American Neurological Association's first lifetime achievement award winner in 2005.

He died in March 2018, aged 88.

His son Thurstan Bannister said: “After retiring from competitive athletics, my father continually encouraged elite athletes and amateur runners of all ages, partly in his role as the first chairman of the Sports Council (now Sport England).

"The track and community miles will be exciting to watch, and I am sure many runners will find them so inspiring, they will shatter their PRs and other records.”

  • Charlotte Banister-Parker, Sir Roger's daughter

Jared Martin, Club Captain of Oxford University Cross Country Club, said: “OUAC and OUCCC are extremely excited to host Bannister Miles on this special anniversary.

"From humble beginnings, club members have stewarded this event to becoming the premier mile race in the UK this year.”

Councillor Dr Nathan Ley, Oxfordshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health, Inequalities and Community Safety, said: "We know how important physical activity is for our health, and that's why we've linked up with our own services, including You Move and Move Together, to get more people on their feet and joining in on 6 May.

"We hope it will help to inspire more children and young people to follow in Sir Roger's footsteps."

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