4 minute mile barrier broken at Harvey Hadden –Thursday 28th July 2016
Notts AC had something to celebrate at the 27th Wealthall memorial mile when Jake Wightman, an under 23 athlete from Edinburgh AC, broke the 4 minute mile barrier at Harvey Haddon Stadium by running 3 minutes 59.4 seconds, exactly the same time achieved by Roger Bannister when he first beat the barrier in 1954.
Notts Chairman Mick Robinson takes up the story “We discovered some years ago that, apart from a rumour that a very famous middle distance runner had broken 4 minutes at our Nottingham track during a training session, no-one had officially broken the barrier. We decided, with the help of sponsors to offer a £1,000 prize in 2006 but for some reason or other, usually the weather, the times were always a couple of seconds the wrong side of 4 minutes.
In earlier year Notts runners Chris Warburton and Bruce Raeside went close to 4 minutes as well as last year’s winner Richard Weir of Derby AC.
Notts have been putting on the mile race as a memorial to young athlete Tim Wealthall since 1990 and each year members of his family attend. More recently the club added a 5000m race to remember another young athlete Richard Belton.
On the night, conditions were quite benign and good times were achieved in the earlier graded races as well the Belton 5k race, most notably in the latter by international runner Katrina Wootton who ran a record time of 15 minutes 48.4 seconds and scooped a £250 prize for beating the 16 minute 30 seconds barrier.
The memorial mile race was headed by a pacemaker for 2 ½ laps at which stage Wightman took over the lead. He was pushed by Weir, runner up this year, who finished in 4 minutes 2.4 seconds and by Cameron Ross Boyek of Shildon Running and Athletics Club in 4 minutes 3.1 seconds.
Wightman was dominant on the last lap but the sub 4 minute time was always in doubt until he powered his way to the finish with a 28 seconds final 200 metres, supported by a highly enthusiastic crowd of spectators, to beat the elusive barrier and win the £1,000 prize.