2014 Bupa Westminster Mile all set to be the world’s biggest one-day festival of mile racing
21 May 2014, 10:28 a.m.
On Saturday 24 May double world and Olympic champion Mo Farah is set to inspire Britain’s future generations over the iconic Mile distance at the Bupa Westminster Mile event. He will run alongside the Under 11 and Under 13 Boys in the London Borough Challenge races at 14:05 after taking on the role of official race starter for the senior men’s and women’s Mile races at 13:20.
With a predicted 5,800 runners involved in 31 one-mile races on the roads around St James’s Park in central London throughout the day, the Bupa Westminster Mile will be the world’s biggest one-day festival of Mile racing and a fitting tribute to Bannister’s historic achievement at Oxford’s Iffley Road track on 6th May 1954.
The programme, organised by the London Marathon in partnership with Westminster City Council and The Royal Parks, includes Mile races for children, families and adults, and features the British Athletics One-Mile Road Championships for runners in a range of age groups, including seniors, juniors and wheelchair athletes.
The Bupa Westminster Mile races begin at 09:30 on Saturday 24 May and continue throughout the day until the final event, the British Athletics Men’s and Women’s U20 One-Mile Road Championships at 15:15 and 15:20 respectively.
Bannister himself will be patron of the event and the winner of the senior men’s race will be awarded the newly commissioned Sir Roger Bannister trophy. The senior women will compete for the Diane Leather trophy, named after the first woman to run a sub-five-minute mile, also 60 years ago. Leather, now Diane Charles, ran 4:59.6 at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium just three weeks after Bannister’s famous feat.
Six-time London Marathon champion David Weir aims to mark the 60th anniversary of Sir Roger Bannister’s legendary sub-four-minute mile by becoming the first wheelchair racer in history to break the three-minute barrier for the iconic distance. His attempt is scheduled for 13:20 on Saturday 24 May.
Weir, who won four gold medals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, will be looking to knock nine seconds from his winning time 12 months ago when he cruised to victory at the inaugural Bupa Westminster Mile in 3 minutes 8.3 seconds.
“It’s a huge challenge but I think, given the right conditions, a sub-three-minute mile is possible,” said Weir. “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.”
Britain’s most experienced international miler, Andrew Baddeley, will be the man to beat in the senior men’s contest. The women’s mile sees a formidable line-up that includes World Championship 1500m medallist Lisa Dobriskey, who was runner-up last year; former UK 1500m champion Charlene Thomas, who was fifth last year; and Julia Bleasdale, an Olympic finalist at 5000m and 10,000m at the London Olympics in 2012.
Baddeley, an Olympic and World Championship finalist at 1500m, is a former winner of the Dream Mile at the Bislett Games in Oslo where so many world records have been broken in the past. He faces Chris Warburton, who was third at the 2013 Bupa Westminster Mile, and James Shane, who was fifth – two of the seven athletes from last year’s top 10 who are competing again in 2014.
The Sweatshop Running Community Mile race at 12:10 will feature former Olympic and World Champion javelin thrower Steve Backley, OBE.