Image via WikipediaSir Roger Bannister was the first runner to break the 4:00 barrier for a mile run. Bannister's time of 3:59.4 in a race in Oxford in 1954 was a monumental moment not just in the history of running, but in the history of all sport.
Since 1954, Bannister's record has been improved 18 times, but only twice since 1985. You can view the progression of mile record times on the "mile run" page on Wikipedia.
The current World Record for the mile is 3:43:13, set by Hicham El Guerrouj in a race in Rome in 1999. El Guerrouj, from Morocco, also holds the world record for the 1500m and outdoor 2000m distances, and won gold medals in both the 1500m and 5000m at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. Amazingly, El Guerroj posted the "year's best" time in the 1500m for eight consecutive years from 1996-2003.
Below is video of the amazing race in Rome in 2009 where Hicham El Guerrouj set the mile record (with a surprisingly close finish for a race run at such a blazing pace):
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