Brian Sullivan


When the Four Minute Mile was broken the ultimate human limitation seemed t ohave been surpssed.

“The breaking through that sort of cut the shackles from people and they were able to move on without the inhibitions and without the fears of the past” stated Professor of Sports Studies at Brunel University, Peter Radford, a former 200 metre record holder.

Almost overnight, dozens surpassed it and it is regularly achieved by college students today. What if people had believed it possible earlier? Wht if Roger Banister hadlived 200 years ago?

Two centuries ago people were so convinced it was possible that in 1787, a runner wagered 1,000 guineas he could run the four minute mile.
According to Peter Radford, a time trial was ran in 1787 for backers to assess their risk. For 200 years from 1663 in the reign of Charles II runner ran naked. So, in the successful trial Powell ran the mile totally naked in 'within three seconds of the time' Peter Radford.

“He ran reputedly four minutes exactly, and in those days they were already measuring races to the accuracy of a second.”

Radford admits the time, ran on May 9, 1770, wasn’t recorded, but that it must have been under four minutes because Parrot had an enormous 15 guineas to five wagered on the outcome. That’s about £1,380 to £460 in 2004 values.

Almost all 18th century racers were for wagers, one party against another.
Customarily, each side appointed an umpire and if the umpires disagreed, they appointed a referee whose decision was final.

Men with whips and poles kept the road clear. Starting at Charterhouse Wall in Goswell Road, he turned right and then ran the length of Old Street.

Parrot won the bet.

“And then in 1796, we have a man called Weller who ran two seconds inside four minutes, just outside Oxford and therefore Weller is technically the first sub four-minute miler” said Radford.
'I don't think it's as outrageous as it seems,' said Dr Greg Whyte, head of science and research at the English Institute of Sport. 'Sport back then was much more open than it was when the Victorians came along and they introduced amateur ethics, thus removing the working class and making sport an elitist pastime.'
The Victorians who first codified sports
Before the Amateur Athletic Association controlled of athletics from the 1880’s, men and women of all social classes ran for money throughout England who were ideologically excluded as professionals.
Middle-class runners were tainted as ‘professionals’ and 'far from being good enough to hold their own in professional company' according to J. H. Walsh in British Rural Sports of 1888.
Was a 4 minute mile really possible two centuries ago?
'There is increasing evidence that these athletes from 200 years ago were far better than we have been prepared to give them credit for' Radford said.
As an example, Radford points out that the bows found when the Mary Rose was raised from the ocean are two hard for modern archers to use.
“All sense tells you that it couldn't have been done - how could anyone have done it in the eighteenth century when people are running 60 miles per week today and still can't do it?” said Bob Phillips, author of the book 3:59.4 - The Quest For The Four-Minute Mile.
'The professionals in the nineteenth century rarely ran as fast as they could, mainly to do with money and betting. Once they had the race won they would ease off because they wanted to ensure the odds in the next race,”
Nevertheless, Amateur records were constantly weaker than the professional equivalents. These records, respected at the time, were later ignored.
'”Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries there were many instances of athletes having run faster than the performances they were credited with,” Bob Phillips said.
However, UK Athletics' performance director for endurance Alan Storey states there was insufficient sports training for these feats to have occured.
'It would have required an extremely talented athlete who was a couple of hundred years ahead of his time in training techniques' he said.
Sport's statistician, Mel Watman, dismisses the claims as folklore. Another issue is whether the tracks were always flat. People have run 3:30 running downhill.
There are also modern, unverified stories.
In the 1987 British Medical Journal, Dr John Ethridge claimed that Glen Cunningham ran 3:56 and 3:52.2 training sessions in the 1930’s.
Edward Seldon Sears repeats claims that Jack Lovelock, Glenn Cunningham and Bill Bonthron ran c 4:08 in practice in the book ‘Running Through the Ages.’





Of course, there are remarkable, verifiable times from Irishman J. Heaviside ran just under 4:30 in 1861 to Gunder Haegg running 4.01.3 in 1945.



We do know that Roger Bannister was the first amateur to run a verified four minute mile under the standardized conditions established by Amateur athletics in the 1880’s.

Interestingly, on April 7, 1954, a month before Bannister's historic run, Ken Wood ran a mile in 3:59.2 in practice.

"When I was told I had run it in three minutes and 59.2 seconds, I thought it was good and just carried on” said Wood. he knew it meant nothing

As Bannister himself said "There are certain conditions that are necessary for claiming records and these relate to track measurements and checking of tracks and, of course, having the requisite number of stopwatches."

So would have athletes run faster if they believed it possible?
In the 1930’s Glen Cunningham believed he had run 3:58.9. He never duplicated it on the track.

Years later, his coach admitted he had deducted 30 seconds from his 4:28.9 time as a psychological ploy.



Mind Power Masters

↑ Grab this Headline Animator




Bookmark and Share






Official Free Search Engine Submission
0 Responses

Post a Comment