Roger Bannister, who in 1954 became the first person to run a mile in under four minutes—beating John Landy to it by less than two months—died last night in Oxford, England, the same city where he ran 3:59.4 64 years ago. He was 88 years old.
He broke the record while studying to be a medical student at Oxford, and retired from running within a year to practice as a neurologist. Bannister practiced medicine well into the 1990s, and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2011.
Bannister’s achievement is one of the most singular in sports history. He never medaled at an Olympics, and he set one world record that lasted just 46 days. But his sub-4:00 mile made him a legend in Britain and in running for life, and the sub-4:00 mile remains a relatively rare achievement. As of mid-2017, less than 1500 people had done it; more than three times as many people have climbed Mt. Everest.