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The spikes Sir Roger Bannister wore during his record-breaking run have sold for big money

The running shoes were expected to reach somewhere between £30,000 and £50,000.

Image: PA/PA Archive/PA Images

IT’S AN ICONIC image.

Roger Bannister, the British middle-distance runner and Olympian, crossing the finish-line shortly after 6pm at the Iffley Road track in Oxford in May 1954, having just ran the very first sub-4-minute mile.

For so long, it was thought to have been impossible but Bannister proved them all wrong. Memorably, it was left to the stadium announcer Norris McWhirter to inform the crowd of the time Bannister had put up.

Ladies and gentlemen, here is the result of event nine, the one mile: first, number forty one, R. G. Bannister, Amateur Athletic Association and formerly of Exeter and Merton Colleges, Oxford, with a time which is a new meeting and track record, and which—subject to ratification—will be a new English Native, British National, All-Comers, European, British Empire and World Record. The time was three…”

The roar of the crowd drowned out the rest of McWhirter’s announcement. But the minor details didn’t matter. Bannister had done it.

The official time was 3.59.40.

The morning of the race, he had taken great care in preparing his spikes for the event and the running shoes were designed to be much lighter than others of the time, weighing about four and a half ounces.

Britain Sale Bannister Shoes The running shoes worn by Roger Bannister, the first man to run a sub 4 minute mile, on display at Christie's auction house in London. Source: Alastair Grant/AP/Press Association Images

“I could see there was an advantage in having the shoe as light as possible,” Bannister had said.

“The leather is extremely thin and the spikes are unusually thin, as I used a grindstone to make them even thinner.”

Certainly, the footwear played its part on that fateful day over sixty years ago.

However, Bannister, who’s now 86, decided earlier this year to put them up for auction and was expected to receive between £30,000 and £50,000.

They went on sale earlier today at Christie’s in London and the highest bid came from an anonymous buyer on the phone.

The winning offer? A cool £266,500.

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About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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