Bermuda’s four-minute mile mystery
Perhaps the most astonishing feature of Bermuda athletics is that despite the plethora of top class athletes who have visited the island, no one has recorded a sub-four minute mile — neither on the track nor on the road.
It’s more than 60 years since Roger Bannister became the first in the world to smash that barrier, and since then literally hundreds of runners, many at college level, have followed in his footsteps.
But despite the valiant efforts of former Olympians and much feted athletes such as Great Britain’s Steve Cram and the January visit of dozens of Africans and Americans with more than adequate credentials, nobody has been able crack that magical mark on the island.
It remains a mystery far more unsolvable than the Bermuda Triangle.
There have been plenty of theories, of course, and even more excuses, such as the course, the weather, and the month not being conducive to fast times.
Granted, Bermuda’s Front Street Mile is traditionally held on the second or third Friday of January, which doesn’t offer the athletes any favours. The hundreds of spectators who crane their necks to get a glimpse of the action are normally armed with umbrellas, woolly hats and three layers of clothing.
If it doesn’t rain, then often a bone chilling crosswind makes it an uncomfortable evening for both the crowd and the runners.
Add to that the deceptive uphill climb, which only those who have competed will have recognised, and a sharp turn at the Birdcage which forces runners to put on the brakes, then maybe there is a valid reason why these elite milers can’t stop the clock ticking beyond four minutes.
In recent years the field has lacked quality. The event reached its nadir in 2016 when the field in the men’s elite race comprised of just two athletes. It’s a sad indictment for a race that in its heyday in the early 1980s was considered one of the island’s blue ribbon events.
Hopefully it can be rejuvenated and a four-minute mile can again be the realistic target.
Adrian Robson was a journalist in Bermuda for more than 40 years, and is a former sports editor of The Royal Gazette.
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