Take a Step (or 9) Back for Sir Roger

The annual Cinco de Mayo parties and marketing campaigns may be winding down, but the following day offers another reason to celebrate, especially if you’re a runner, and even more so this year.

roger_bannisterThis May 6 marks the 60th anniversary of Roger Bannister’s historic run on the Iffley Road track in England, where he became the first man to dip under the “unbreakable” four-minute barrier for four laps of the cinder oval.

In the intervening six decades, running under four minutes has gone from being considered an unobtainable, superhuman feat to the mark of a really, really good miler (in fact college runners achieve the feat somewhat often, the latest occurrence coming at the Penn Relays last month).

Sub-four minute miles might be even more commonplace if the distance was contested more often, but sadly, that’s not the case.

Since Bannister turned the trick on that stormy English afternoon 60 years ago, the hallowed distance of the mile has been supplanted by its metric equivalent, the 1500 meters, a race which lacks the mile’s symmetry of four equal circuits of the oval, each to be covered in an average of 60 seconds.

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Break Up The Americans!


Annie Bersagel en route to winning the Dusseldorf Marathon. Photo by Victah Sailer, PhotoRun

While it didn’t garner the publicity of Meb Keflezighi’s historic win in Boston on Patriots’ Day, a week later another American was ascending the victory podium in an international marathon.
Annie Bersagel, whose recent athletic career has been almost as peripatetic as Meb’s early life, won the Metro Group Marathon Duesseldorf in 2:28:59, a 1:54 PR and putting her in the select group of American women who have run under 2:30 for the distance. Continue reading