Roger Bannister's 4-minute mile shoes hitting auction block

Wednesday May 20th, 2015

The running shoes worn by Roger Bannister when he became the first man to break the 4-minute mile barrier will be going on sale, auction house Christie’s announced.

Bannister, who was the first person to be named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, became the first runner to break the 4-minute barrier when he crossed the finish line at 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds on May 6, 1954, at the Iffley Road Track in Oxford.

Christie's says the leather shoes will hit the auction block at the Out of the Ordinary sale on Sept. 10 in London and are expected to be priced between $47,000 and $78,000.

The shoes Bannister wore weighed four and a half ounces, which were much lighter than any shoes that runners competed in at the time.

“I think it’s the right time to part with them and I plan to give part of the proceeds to the Autonomic Charitable Trust (ACT) which encourages the area of neurological research to which I have devoted most of my life,” Bannister said. “Other worthwhile causes in which I have an interest will also benefit.”

Bannister, now 86, says there was an advantage to wearing the shoes, which were made by Charles Law of GT Law and Son.

“The leather is extremely thin and the spikes are unusually thin, as I used a grindstone to make them even thinner,” he said. “These shoes are the last tangible link I have with the four-minute mile. All my trophies are now on display at Pembroke College Oxford, where I was Master.”

- Scooby Axson

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