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How hard is the 4 minute mile?
  • Pretty darn hard! One of our Local Elite runners(Sandy Roberts) organized an event where he was going to try to break the 4 minute barrier on a local High School Track. When he first thought this up he wasn’t expecting many people to actually show up to watch.

    He really just wanted to challenge himself to do it. He has run really close to the 4 minute barrier indoors but he hadn’t ever broken that magical number in an officially timed event.

    My father had always told me about how great the day was when Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile barrier. It was thought to be impossible back then(1954) but somehow Bannister proved them all wrong. Check out the video below to see what that race was like.

    I was literally obsessed with trying to become an elite runner when I was 9 years old. I trained by myself harder than any 9 year old should ever train. I was running 10Ks flat out nearly every day in hopes that one day I too could reach that magical number.

    However, no matter how much I trained I couldn’t beat the kids that had elite coaches and knew how to train properly. I became frustrated with the middle distances and then ran my first half marathon at 13 years old. After that I didn’t run distance again until my first child was born 15 years later.

    The 4 minute mile is not what it once was. At least 1000 people have run under that time and Daniel Komen has run sub 8 minutes for two miles twice before. In one of his attempts both of his consecutive miles were sub 4 minutes.

    However, the feat is still just as hard as it was before. No woman has ever even come close to breaking the 4 minute barrier. The world record for women still stands at 4:12:56 but the men’s record was an astonishing 3:43.13 and the second place runner was right behind him. Check out this video to see what that race looked like.

    When I saw that it was free to come out and watch Sandy make his attempt at this elusive goal I grabbed my GH3 and GoPro 3 Black and headed down to Cardinal Gibbons High School. I wasn’t expecting anyone else to be there but to my surprise there were hundreds of people there already.

    The track was abuzz with spectators anxiously awaiting the high school football team to finish practice so the race could start. Half an hour later Sandy and his brother(Pacer till 800 meters) were ready to toe the line.

    Then it happened. The entire stadium went dead silent. You couldn’t hear anything. Nothing. Just silence as the brothers hurried to the line. No count down. Just a single gunshot and the two runners were off at a torrid pace with a sea of people surrounding them.

    I sat alone in the stands. I wanted the best view of the entire track. I was there to capture the moment. I was there in admiration of a fellow runner that I knew could do what I had only dreamed of.

    I will let the video pick up where my story left off. I think it does the event justice. I didn’t shoot any stills of the run because they simply don’t tell the whole story. The noise from the crowd is just overwhelming.

    It seemed like it wasn’t just a single runner out there. It seemed more like hundreds of people giving everything they had to will this lone runner around the track. In the end breaking the 4 minute mile wasn’t really the goal.

    The goal was to introduce running to as many people as possible. That goal was accomplished.

    Please watch the video below and enjoy.

  • 7 Replies sorted by
  • In case you want to discuss the technical details of the video here is what I used.

    GH3 + 35-100mm lens. 1080p @ 60 FPS, Program Priority stills mode with 1/120th of a second fixed shutter duration using the Flicker Reduction setting. Intelligent ISO and no exposure compensation. F2.8 and approximately ISO 1000. I used AFF for the focus mode.

    I used the Scenery color profile with -2 contrast, +2 Sharpness, and I accidentally used +2 color so I had to correct it a little in post processing. I never turn the in camera noise reduction above -5. I simply don't think it does any good at all.

    I still am not certain that 1/120th is the best shutter speed for the fast panning that I was doing. Next time I will try 1/60th to get a little extra blurring.

    The video was shot entirely hand held while sitting with the GH3 and the GoPro was shooting 1080p @ 60 FPS narrow angle on the hotshoe. I can post that video if any of you want to compare it to the GH3.

    Some People say "Use a tripod and a camcorder for video". This is what the event looked like when that was done.

  • Ok master of AFF. Thanks for sharing the story. I have no idea why the bros decided to break the 4 mins barrier, but it was inspirational.

  • @stonebat

    AFF with the GH3 is pretty easy for anyone. It did have one little hiccup coming down the back stretch of the 2nd lap though.

    If I could come anywhere close to that time I would try it every single day just because I could.

  • Ok that explains.

  • @mpgxsvcd

    Big thanks for such posts. Very much like them.

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev

    Thanks VK. That means a lot to me. I am a sports junkie and I grew up with running. I am not good at it anymore but I still try to stay involved with the running community.