Weir Breaks Road Mile Record at The Bupa Westminster Mile
22 Sep 2015, 1:43 p.m.
David Weir produced the fastest wheelchair road mile in history at the third Bupa Westminster Mile festival of road racing in central London today, but just missed out on becoming the first sub-three-minute miler in history as he held off his arch rival Marcel Hug.
On a day of bright sunshine, the six-times London Marathon winner was blessed with dry roads this afternoon and he flew around the course, which skirts St James’s Park in the heart of Westminster, to cross the Finish Line in front of Buckingham Palace in three minutes three seconds, smashing the time of 3:07 he clocked to win last year.
Passing the fast-starting Hug at half-way, Weir rolled at some 24 miles per hour down Horse Guards Parade and screamed around the tight bend into the Finish on Spur Road, but fell just short of the three-minute barrier he had targeted to mark the 30th anniversary of Steve Cram’s British mile record from Oslo in July 1985.
“Nearly, so nearly,” said Weir when he came to a stop at the base of Victoria Memorial at the top of The Mall.
“Marcel went off like a rocket but I took the rest of the race on. I’m gutted because I’ve been doing sub-three in training all week. It’s just the bends on this course that make it so hard.
“I could hear Marcel behind me at the end and knew he was there. Usually he’s got great strength at the end, so I’m glad I could finish it off.”
Weir duly completed a Bupa Westminster Mile hat-trick, retaining the British Athletics men’s wheelchair road mile title he won 12 months ago after he was victorious at the inaugural contest in 2013 in 3:09 – both world record marks at the time.
“It’s great to get the world record again, but it’s a shame not to get sub-three,” said Weir. “I’m getting closer and closer. If Marcel had not been on my tail I wouldn’t have got 3:03. It’s great that he’s here supporting the race.”
Hug beat the Briton to the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon title, but had to settle for second this time. After clinging onto his rival’s wheel in the closing stretch, he began to close at the end and was given the same time of 3:03.
“The conditions were great today and I’m sure we can go faster here in the future,” said Hug. “The Westminster Mile is a great event and I love coming to London.
Weir’s coach Jenny Archer was at the Finish to greet her athlete once his racing chair had come to a halt.
“The times we’ve been doing in training in the park I knew he was going to be close,” she said. “I’m absolutely gutted for him. But it’s there; it’s definitely in him.”
The 35-year-old’s achievement was also watched by Bill Lucas, Britain’s oldest Olympian, who just half an hour earlier had started a race featuring more than 80 Olympians, one of the 33 races that make up the world’s greatest festival of mile racing.
That event was won in 5:40 by Cram himself, while Adam Clarke took the Sir Roger Bannister trophy as the British Athletics men’s road mile champion. The Aldershot, Farnham & District athlete beat Jonny Hay in 4:05.
Rachel Bamford won the women’s senior title, named after Diane Leather, the first woman to run a mile in less than five minutes. Bamford, from Leeds, outsprinted Charlene Thomas and Hannah England to win in 4:39.
The Bupa Westminster Mile is staged in partnership with Westminster City Council as part of Westminster’s commitment to encourage more people to take up sport and be more physically active.