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The ‘Miracle Mile’ of 1954

To mark Commonwealth Day 2013, the CGF is very proud to present a new short film telling the story of the what is arguably one of the greatest athletics race of all time: The ‘Miracle Mile’ of 1954.

The final of the one-mile race at the Commonwealth (then called the ‘Empire Games’)in Vancouver, Canada on Aug. 7, 1954 featured the two titans of middle-distance running in the 1950s; Roger Bannister (England), and John Landy (Australia). Both men were world famous runners, both were at the peak of their athletics careers, and they were the first two men, within the previous six months, to break the 4-minute mile time barrier that many at that time thought was impenetrable.

Roger Bannister is best known for running the first sub 4-minute mile on May 6, 1954 in Oxford, England. What many people today forget is that Bannister's record stood for less than two months. It was broken (by over a full second) by John Landy in June. Some argue that Landy's feat was in fact more ‘genuine’, since he accomplished the time in a actual race without the aid of dedicated pacers. Imagine, then, a situation where the two most famous runners of their day, and the first two men to run a sub 4-minute mile, were able to face each other down on the track.

This is exactly what happened at the Empire Games in Vancouver in August. Even today, more than 50 years on, the race itself has the power to create goosebumps and make the heart race. In ‘The Miracle Mile’ young heptathlete Jazmin Sawyers (England), who won gold in long jump and 4x100m relay at the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games, presents the story of this great race, and interviews both Bannister and Landy at their homes in Oxford, England and Melbourne, Australia.

More than anything else, the Miracle Mile was a race about strategy. Roger Bannister and John Landy were both fast but they both approached races with different styles. Landy was a front-runner - he blazed away in the early stages, hoping to blow away his opponents before they knew what hit them.

Bannister, on the other hand, was a kicker. He preferred to hold tight to the leader, and then blast past him in the final leg in a late burst. Both men knew their opponent's style, and spent days before the race trying to figure out the appropriate strategy to use to beat their opponent.

In the lead up to the next Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland next year, the CGF will be presenting a series of films on a regular basis on some of the landmark moments from the history of the Games. To find out more, simply follow @theCGF on Twitter or ‘like’ us at

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