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This timeline has key dates relating to breaking the 4-minute mile. Faster, further, longer, stronger – humans breaking records.

31 May 1913

American John Paul Jones holds the first officially recorded male amateur world record for the mile (1,609.344 metres).

15 July 1933

New Zealander Jack Lovelock holds the record for a while in the 1930s.

July 1942

Swedish Gunder Hägg holds the official world record by the end of the 1940s.

6 May 1954

Englishman Roger Bannister runs the first amateur sub-four minute mile.

27 January 1962

New Zealander Peter Snell holds the record for a while during the 1960s.

12 August 1975

New Zealander John Walker breaks the world mile record in the 1970s. His was the first mile run under 3 min 50 sec.

27 July 1985

Englishman Steve Cram holds the world record by the end of the 1980s.

14 August 1996

Russian Svetlana Masterkova breaks the female world record for the mile. No woman has yet run a sub-four minute mile.

7 July 1999

Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj breaks the world record in Rome in the 1990s. He still holds the record.

The future

You decide – the 4 minute barrier has been lowered by only 17 seconds over the last 50 years. What will it take to keep breaking the record?

    Published 21 June 2007, Updated 12 May 2014