1 Nov 2019

Snell and Walker invited to celebrate the mile

7:22 am on 1 November 2019

More than a dozen of the greatest middle distance runners ever, including two from New Zealand, will gather in Monaco later this month.

Peter Snell, centre, won gold in the men's 1500 metres in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Pictured on the podium with, at left, Josef Odlozil (Cze) and  bronze-medal winner John Davies (NZL).

Sir Peter Snell Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Sir Peter Snell and Sir John Walker are among those invited to celebrate the World Athletics Heritage Mile Night to celebrate the classic middle distance event.

Other mile record breakers Michel Jazy, Jim Ryun, Filbert Bayi, Sebastian Coe, Steve Cram, Noureddine Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj will also attend the function.

Sir Peter says the breaking of the four minute mile barrier was what made the distance something special.

"Some people said you could never run under four minutes and so it really hyped the event and it captured peoples imaginations."

"Once I broke the record (in 1962), I was a better 800 metre runner, but I never got invited to run 800 again, everyone just wanted to see the mile."

John Walker 1976 Olympics.

John Walker Photo: PHOTOSPORT

80 year old Snell says he's looking forward to seeing Frenchman Michel Jazy who broke his record in 1965.

Family representatives of Roger Bannister, the world's first sub-four-minute miler, and Diane Leather Charles, the first woman to run a mile within five minutes, will also attend this historic reception.

The event will feature a treasure trove of archive film footage and a display of mile running memorabilia.

The mile is the last remaining imperial distance still applicable for world record ratification.

Since the formation of the IAAF in 1912, the men's world mile record has been held by Algeria, France, Finland, Morocco and Sweden, along with English-speaking Australia, Britain, New Zealand, Tanzania, and the USA, with whom the mile is arguably more closely associated.

Snell broke the record twice, he set a new time of 3:54:4 at Cooks Garden in Whanganui in 1962 and 3:54:1 in Auckland in 1964.

Walker set a new mark of 3:49:4 for the mile in Sweden in 1975.