Oxford: University’s Roger Bannister running track gets new look

By Curtis LancasterBBC News

University of Oxford A CGI image of the new Oxford blue running trackUniversity of Oxford

The surface at the University of Oxford’s Iffley Road Sports Centre will become Oxford blue

The running track where Sir Roger Bannister ran the first sub-four-minute mile, 70 years ago, is being re-laid and given a new look.

The more than £250,000 project will see the surface at the University of Oxford’s Iffley Road Sports Centre change from red to Oxford blue – the university’s official colour.

Work to strip away the old track began on Monday and it will be replaced by new Polyurethane rubber so that it can continue to meet UK athletics’ regulations.

This director of sport for the university Jon Roycroft said the first phase of work is expected to finish by 31 July, with further renovations at the centre planned “at a later date”.

University of Oxford Differs on the red running track removing lanes. One lane has been removed.University of Oxford

Work is underway to remove the red lanes that currently make up the Roger Bannister running track

When Sir Roger Bannister completed his then record breaking mile in three minutes and 59.4 seconds in 1954 he was running on a cinder track.

Since then the surface, which was named after the runner in 2007, has been relayed four times with a “gentle” and “high quality” rubber material, said Mr Roycroft.

“If Sir Roger had run on this surface it might have taken six to seven seconds off of his time.” He said.

“It just goes to show what an amazing achievement it was when he broke the record in the spikes wore and on the track he ran on.”

Getty Images Footage from 1954 shows Sir Roger Bannister  Getty Images

The track was made famous by Sir Roger Bannister in 1954 who used it when running the first sub-four-minute mile

The first non-cinder surface was laid shortly after the record breaking run in the 1950s, following a campaign by Sir Roger.

“I had a fantastic relationship with Roger over the years.” Mr Roycroft said.

“He embraced making the surfaces safer and better for students to run on.”

Sir Roger became a distinguished neurologist, and died in March 2018, aged 88.

The Bannister Community Mile took place in the centre of Oxford on 6 May to mark the 70th anniversary of Sir Roger’s running achievement.

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