Some of Britain’s finest middle and long distance runners and wheelchair athletes will gather in the capital this weekend, as London welcomes the Bupa Westminster Mile and London 10,000.
The iconic mile distance will be celebrated by marking the 60th anniversary of the first sub-four-minute mile on Saturday, as Sir Roger Bannister’s milestone 3:59.4 on a track in Oxford on May 6th, 1954 is commemorated.
In the world’s biggest one-day festival of road mile racing with 31 races in total looping around St James’ Park, a sub-four clocking in the men’s elite race would offer a fitting tribute to Bannister’s historic achievement.
The programme, organised by the Virgin Money London Marathon, includes the British Athletics One-Mile Road Championships for senior, junior and wheelchair athletes.
Bannister himself will be patron of the event and the winner of the senior men’s race will be awarded the newly-commissioned Sir Roger Bannister trophy.
The senior women, meanwhile, will compete for the Diane Leather trophy, named after the first woman to run a sub-five-minute mile, also 60 years ago.
Leather, now Diane Charles, ran 4:59.6 in Birmingham just three weeks after Bannister’s famous feat.
Six-time London Marathon champion, David Weir will aim to become the first wheelchair racer in history to break three minutes for the mile.
The four-time gold medallist from the London 2012 Olympic Games said:
“It’s a huge challenge but I think, given the right conditions, a sub-three-minute mile is possible.
“My PB for the mile on the track is 3:16 so I need a big improvement on that. But racing on the open road rather than having to contend with the tight bends of the track will be a big help.”
Double Olympic and World 5,000m and 10,000m champion, Mo Farah has withdrawn from Sunday’s Bupa London 10,000m due to having not sufficiently recovered from his marathon debut in London last month, but will be on hand to officially start the race.
The star of British Athletics will also inspire future generations of the sport by running alongside the under 11 and under 13 boys in the London Borough Challenge races on Saturday.
He will additionally start the senior men’s and women’s mile races as Britain’s best tackle the route which starts on The Mall and finishes in front of Buckingham Palace.
2008 Olympic 1500m finalist, Andy Baddeley heads the elite men’s field and will be joined by 2013 World Championship 1500m finalist, Chris O’Hare and 2011 European under 23 1500m silver medallist, James Shane.
The women’s mile offers a strong line-up lead by Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m eighth-placer, Julia Bleasdale and World Championship 1500m finalist, Lisa Dobriskey.
Former UK 1500m champion, Charlene Thomas also contests, as does 2011 European 3,000m champion, Helen Clitheroe.
Other notable names include European junior 3,000m champion, Emelia Gorecka who is enjoying her first season as a senior athlete, Beth Potter, Lily Partridge and Katie Brough.
2012 London Marathon winner, Shelley Woods is the top entrant in the women’s wheelchair race.
On Sunday, British 10,000m track champion, Andy Vernon will face Chris Thompson who was the second British finisher in the Virgin Money London Marathon in April.
European cross-country silver medallist, Gemma Steel leads the women’s entrants from GB marathoner, Louise Damen and Tasha Doel.