World premiere of Bannister film at Bupa Westminster Mile
13 May 2014, 10:11 a.m.
The world premiere of a new documentary about Roger Bannister’s historic first sub-four-minute mile will form part of the official 60th anniversary celebrations at the Bupa Westminster Mile on Saturday 24 May.
The documentary has been made by US filmmakers Tom Ratcliffe, former international marathon runner and TV analyst, and Jeremy Mosher, television producer and university runner. It will be shown on the big screen in Green Park.
“Sixty years ago, wartime rationing was still in place, morale was low and Britain was struggling to emerge from the darkness of the war years,” said Ratcliffe. “Then in 1953 came the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on the same morning as the news broke that Edmund Hillary had conquered Everest. Against this backdrop, a young Oxford medical student made plans to become the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes, a feat long assumed to be physically impossible.
“Our film, Bannister: Everest on the Track, explores this extraordinary moment in history. Aided by a unique team, Bannister led the way into a new era in athletic achievement, at a time when his country needed it most. To date, fewer people have run a sub-four-minute mile than have climbed the world’s highest peak.”
A preview of the documentary can be seen here
Sir Roger Bannister, patron of the event, will be present to watch the runners compete in 30 different races over the mile distance in the Royal Parks. At the close of entries, 5,869 runners had registered.
Six-time London Marathon champion David Weir aims to become the first wheelchair racer in history to break the three-minute barrier for the iconic distance.
“It was an inspiration to meet Sir Roger at the launch of this event a few weeks ago,” said Weir. “It would be incredible to become the first athlete to go sub-three when he’s watching.”
Sir Roger will present the new Sir Roger Bannister Trophy to the winner of the senior men’s race where Britain’s most experienced international miler, Andrew Baddeley, will be the man to beat. 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 in the inaugural Bupa Westminster Mile in 2013, and James Shane who was fifth – two of the seven athletes from last year’s top 10 who are competing again in 2014.
Diane Leather (now Charles), the first woman to run a sub-five-minute mile – also 60 years ago – will present the Diane Leather trophy to the winner of the senior women’s race. This features a formidable line-up including World Championship 1500m medallist Lisa Dobriskey, who was runner-up last year; former world junior 1500m champion Steph Twell, fourth in 2013; former UK 1500m champion Charlene Thomas, who was fifth last year; and Julia Bleasdale, an Olympic finalist at 5000m and 10,000m in 2012.
Double Olympic and world champion Mo Farah will officially start the senior men’s and women’s races and later run alongside Britain’s future stars in the Boys’ U11 and U13 London Borough Challenge races at 14.05. Farah will be racing in earnest the next day as he goes for his sixth consecutive victory in the Bupa London 10,000.
“This is set to be the world’s greatest one-day festival of mile racing,” said Event Director Hugh Brasher. “It is a very fitting tribute to Sir Roger, one of the great legends of world sport. The Mile is an iconic distance and is both inspirational to and understood by the younger generation as it is revered by those who watched Sir Roger sixty years ago.”
The races will begin on The Mall in St James’s Park and then follow the park’s perimeter via Horse Guards Road and Birdcage Walk to finish on Spur Road in front of Buckingham Palace.
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.
Weir’s attempt to make wheelchair racing history in the mile is scheduled for 13:20.
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.
It is the first part of a packed weekend of road running in the capital. The programme continues on Sunday morning (25 May) with the seventh edition of the Bupa London 10,000, starting at 10.00.