Record numbers to run iconic distance in May as David Weir targets first sub-three-minute mile

Sir Roger Bannister is patron of this year’s Bupa Westminster Mile which will see the world’s biggest timed road mile of 2014 officially mark the 60th anniversary of the first sub-four minute mile.

Taking place on May 24, 30 races featuring 5500 participants will take place over the iconic distance from The Mall to Buckingham Palace. As well as races for children and families, the programme will also include the British Athletics One-Mile Road Championships for age groups, seniors and wheelchair athletes.

The winner of the senior men’s championships will be awarded the newly-commissioned Sir Roger Bannister trophy, while Diane Charles, who was the first woman to run a sub-five-minute mile as Diane Leather, has given her name to the new trophy for the winner of the senior women’s championships.

“The mile has a wonderful symmetry as a race, neither too short nor too long, and I’m looking forward very much to being involved with this event,” commented Bannister, speaking at the launch of the 2014 event at Paddington Recreation Ground where he trained for his world-record run.

“It’s wonderful to see the enthusiasm of so many for the mile distance.”

The track at the recreation ground has recently been fully refurbished, funded in part by a grant from the London Marathon Charitable Trust, with Bannister adding: “I wish I’d had a track like this to run on.”

Not only will the event celebrate Banniser’s legendary achievement which he managed at the Iffley Road track in Oxford on May 6, 1954, but six-time Paralympic champion David Weir also has a record time in his sights.

“It’s a huge challenge but I think, given the right conditions and with the support of the organisers, a sub-three-minute mile is possible,” said Weir, who will compete in the senior wheelchair championships.

“My PB for the mile on the track is 3:16 so I need a big improvement on that. But racing on the open road rather than having to contend with the tight bends of the track will be a big help,” he added. “I did 3:09 on this course last year.”

Entries for this year’s Bupa Westminster Mile are now open at where runners can enter as individuals or as a family. The entry fee is £8.00 for entrants aged 18 and over (£7.00 for Westminster residents) and £6.00 for those aged nine to 17 (£5.00 for Westminster residents). Children aged under nine are free.

The closing date for entries is May 6, 2014 – the anniversary of Bannister’s legendary run – or when 5500 entries are received, whichever comes first.

“It’s very fitting that the 60th anniversary of the first sub-four-minute mile will help set a new record in numbers and, possibly, provide the setting for the first sub-three-minute mile,” commented Hugh Brasher, Bupa Westminster Mile event director.

“It’s extraordinary to think that, 60 years on, more people have climbed Mount Everest than have run a sub-four-minute mile. We hope events like these will inspire the next generation of milers.”

» Look out for a special bumper issue of AW, out May 1, which will celebrate Bannister’s first sub-four-minute mile