Quinn unveils new website, www.4minutemile.il.gov,
for a healthier Illinois
CHICAGO—Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn convened the planet’s largest gathering of humans who have broken the four-minute mile barrier, an accomplishment once deemed unthinkable until Roger Bannister did it on May 6, 1954.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bannister’s feat, Quinn honored the 14 Illinois runners who have matched Bannister’s record-setting time. Only 257 United States runners have ever run a sub-four minute mile.
“From the dawn of history, humans have run. The 4-minute mile was always thought to be beyond human limits,” Quinn said. “Fifty years ago, an unbreakable barrier was shattered by an unstoppable spirit. Today, we salute the determination of Roger Bannister and all 14 Illinois runners who smashed the four-minute mark.”
Quinn - who was joined by nine of the 14 Illinoisans who have broken the 4-minute mile – used the event to promote the American Running Association’s 12-week “Walk/Run Program” to help Illinois residents get in shape.
“You don’t need to run a four-minute mile to be in shape,” Quinn said. “A daily 15-minute walk is a good start and the ‘Walk/Run Program’ is a big first step.” Quinn will be joined by leaders of the track and field community, including David Watt, Executive Director of the American Running Association.
For information on the “Walk/Run Program” visit www.4minutemile.il.gov set up by Quinn’s office as a public service. The site also lists the names and dates of each Illinois runner who has smashed the 4-minute barrier, information on Bannister’s historic race and links to several running and exercise websites.
On a gray, windy afternoon 50 years ago, Bannister - a medical student at Oxford - joined five other runners at a London track. Speculation had raged for months in the sports world that Bannister could possibly challenge the 4-minute mark. After hanging back in the third spot for most of the race, Bannister swept into the lead with only 230 yards to go. He collapsed as he crossed the finish line. Two minutes later, the official timekeeper announced the new world record of 3:59.4 minutes.
“The 4-minute mile was once considered an impossible dream,” Quinn said. “Bannister’s feat inspired all of humanity, so today we celebrate a triumph of the human spirit.”
The first Illinois resident to break the barrier was Tom O’Hara, the St. Ignatius and Loyola University star who ran 3:59.2 in 1963. The most recent was Don Sage of Elmhurst, who ran a 3:59.4 mile last year. Others included Lee LaBadie of DesPlaines, Ken Popejoy of Glen Ellyn, Rick Wohlhuter of St. Charles, Mike Durkin of River Grove, Jim Spivey of Wood Dale, Rich Harris of Lake Forest, Darryl Frerker of Highland, Eddie Slowikowski of Hinsdale, Mark Deady of Lincolnshire, Len Sitko of Niles, Scott Anderson of Chicago and Tim Broe of East Peoria. The current record for the mile - 3.43.13 - was set in 1999 by Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco.
"You don’t have to run a 4-minute mile to join the track and field team,” said Quinn. “I encourage everyone to get involved in track and field events by joining your local team, the Illinois Junior Olympics, Special Olympics or Senior Olympics.”