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Chasing the 4-minute mile: A timeline

  • Author: Beth Bragg
    | Sports
  • Updated: September 12, 2017
  • Published September 12, 2017

A four-minute mile was once deemed impossible. Since Roger Bannister first broke the barrier in 1954, it is now considered the gold standard for men. In 2013, Trevor Dunbar became the 405th American to achieve the milestone and remains the only Alaskan to break the barrier.

1954 — Roger Bannister of England records the first four-minute mile in history, a 3:59.4.

1957 — Don Bowden becomes the first American to break four minutes (3:58.7).

1964 — Jim Ryun becomes the first American high school runner to break four minutes (3:59.0)

1975 — John Walker of New Zealand becomes the first to break 3:50 (3:49.4).

1999 — Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco sets the current world record (3:43.13). In the same race, Noah Ngeny of Kenya ran 3:43.40, the second-fasted time in history.

2001 — Alan Webb becomes the first high school runner since Ryun to crack the barrier, setting a U.S. high school record in 3:53.43.

2007 — Alan Webb sets the U.S. record (3:46.91).

July 15, 2013 — Trevor Dunbar of Kodiak becomes the first Alaskan to break the four-minute mark (3:59.06). His dad, Marcus, came excruciatingly close to a sub-4:00 when he ran 4:00.58 in 1993.

Sept. 13, 2013 — Jack Bolas, a runner from Washington, D.C., in town to promote New Balance shoes, runs the first sub-4:00 in Alaska by clocking 3:58.3 indoors at The Dome.

June 1, 2017 — Trevor Dunbar lowers the best mile time by an Alaskan (3:55.54).

Sources: Alaska Dispatch News archives, Track and Field News,, Wikipedia.

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