Miracle Mile

MIRACLE MILE took place at Empire Stadium in VANCOUVER on 7 Aug 1954 at the British Empire Games (see BRITISH EMPIRE AND COMMONWEALTH GAMES). The race pitted Australian John Landy against Englishman Roger Bannister, the first direct competition between the only runners in the world who had covered a mile in under 4 minutes. It ended in a dramatic finish when Landy, in the lead, glanced over his left shoulder at the very second Bannister surged past him on the right. The moment was captured in one of the most famous photographs in sports history, taken by photographer Charlie Warner. Final times were Bannister 3:58.8, Landy 3:59.6. It was the first time two runners had broken the 4-minute barrier in the same race and it created enormous excitement globally. The first international sports event broadcast live on television to all of N America, it also became the lead story in the first issue of Sports Illustrated. Often forgotten is BC runner Bill Parnell, who held the British Empire Games record before Bannister. Parnell competed at the 1954 Games but failed to qualify for the final race. After retiring from athletics, he taught school in N Vancouver. He died, aged 80, in 2008.