Mile Moment of the Month: 50 years ago Peter Snell sets rare world record
“The first half Mile was, I felt, too fast, but I was carried along by the whole atmosphere and excitement... I struggled along to the three-quarter mark, and from then on I was hanging on desperately.”
By Bring Back the Mile
Like October, which also has few top racing opportunities, the month of November has also produced just one outdoor Mile world record by either gender and that rare record occurred fifty years ago, on November 17, 1964 in Auckland, New Zealand, when Peter Snell set the Mile world record, clocking 3 minutes, 54.1 seconds.
At Western Springs Stadium, 20,000 rabid fans witnessed Snell, 25, break his own nearly three-year-old world record by .3 seconds. The three-time Olympic champion was the first Kiwi to hold the Mile WR since Jack Lovelock in 1933.
The field went through the first two laps in a swift 1:54, but the pace proved too punishing even for Snell who recounted post-race: “The first half Mile was, I felt, too fast, but I was carried along by the whole atmosphere and excitement. I could feel the pace catching up with me. I struggled along to the three-quarter mark, and from then on I was hanging on desperately.”
In the evening race, Snell covered the last two painful laps in 2:00.1 to just dip under his old mark, 3:54.4 to 3:54.1. His last Mile WR lasted less than 7 months when France’s Michel Jazy ran 3:53.6 on June 9, 1965.
Josef Odlozil was runner-up in 3:56.4, a Czechoslovakian record, and fellow Kiwi John Davies was third, 3:56.8. Earlier that year, on October 21, the trio - Snell, Odlozil and Davies - won the gold, silver and bronze 1500m medals, respectively, at the Tokyo 1964 Olympics.
Also see Sports Illustrated article HERE.