Beatty, world’s first indoor sub-four-minute miler, donates track spike to MOWA – World Athletics

Whenever Jim Beatty is asked to speak about his enduring niche in track and field history, as the first man to run an indoor mile in less than four minutes, he plays a DVD recording of his landmark race from the Los Angeles Times Invitational meeting on 10 February 1962.

“Although everyone knows the outcome, everyone in the room stands up and cheers as if they were seeing it live,” said Beatty, who has kindly donated one of his spikes (right shoe) from his trailblazing 1962 season to the World Athletics Heritage Collection and the Museum of World Athletics (MOWA). “It is still that exciting.”

It is indeed. Watching the grainy footage, track and field heritage comes to vivid, inspirational life – enhanced by the dulcet tones of Jim McKay, the legendary voice of ABC’s Wide World of Sports, who became renowned for his marathon commentary on the unfolding horror of the Munich Massacre at the 1972 Olympic Games.

“We come to the classic event of any track meet, indoors or out: the one mile run,” McKay trumpeted from his commentary box seat in the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. “This one could really be something, because a four-man team from the Los Angeles Track Club has announced it is going to make a kind of a group assault on the world indoor record.

“It is hoped that one of them, right here and now, can run the mile in less than four minutes. Nobody has ever done it in a place with a roof on it.”

Igloi trained

The four LA musketeers were Beatty, Jim Grelle, Laszlo Tabori and Dave Martin. They were joined by just one other competitor, Lieutenant Pete Close of the US Marine Corps.

It was, of course, a neat, symmetrical reflection of the first successful outdoor assault on the four-minute mile barrier: at Iffley Road in Oxford on 6 May 1954. Roger Bannister’s momentous 3:59.4 had been assisted by the pacemaking of his training partners Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway and orchestrated by their coach, Franz Stampfl.

The LA indoor attempt was plotted by the great Hungarian middle-distance guru Mihaly Igloi, who emigrated to the United States and settled in the Los Angeles area with Tabori, who became the third man to crack four minutes outdoors in 1955 (after Bannister and his great Australian rival John Landy), the year in which he also equalled the 1500m world record.

At the open, exposed Iffley Road track, Brasher toed Bannister to 400m in 58 seconds and 800m in 1:58, then Chataway took him through 1200m in 3:01.

“Little Jimmy” runs sensationally

On the LA boards, with its dizzying 11 laps to a mile, Beatty did more of the running himself.

Tabori led through 400m in 58.9 before Beatty hit the front.

Beatty was a sight to behold as he attacked the clock with all the aggression of the champion boxer he had been in his schooldays in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“One of the gamest runners you’ll ever find in the world,” said McKay of the 5ft 2in “Little Jimmy” (as the North Carolina press dubbed Beatty), with his distinctive barrel-chested build and slightly out-swinging arm carriage.

Grelle, who was to win the Pan Am Games 1500m title ahead of Beatty in 1963, settled in behind as the two men noisily rounded the bend together. “There you hear the feet pounding on boards, the unmistakable sound of indoor track,” McKay noted.

At 800…….

Source: https://worldathletics.org/heritage/news/jim-beatty-indoor-sub-four-mile-mowa

Whenever Jim Beatty is asked to speak about his enduring niche in track and field history, as the first man to run an indoor mile in less than four minutes, he plays a DVD recording of his landmark race from the Los Angeles Times Invitational meeting on 10 February 1962.

“Although everyone knows the outcome, everyone in the room stands up and cheers as if they were seeing it live,” said Beatty, who has kindly donated one of his spikes (right shoe) from his trailblazing 1962 season to the World Athletics Heritage Collection and the Museum of World Athletics (MOWA). “It is still that exciting.”

It is indeed. Watching the grainy footage, track and field heritage comes t…….

Whenever Jim Beatty is asked to speak about his enduring niche in track and field history, as the first man to run an indoor mile in less than four minutes, he plays a DVD recording of his landmark race from the Los Angeles Times Invitational meeting on 10 February 1962.

“Although everyone knows the outcome, everyone in the room stands up and cheers as if they were seeing it live,” said Beatty, who has kindly donated one of his spikes (right shoe) from his trailblazing 1962 season to the World Athletics Heritage Collection and the Museum of World Athletics (MOWA). “It is still that exciting.”

It is indeed. Watching the grainy footage, track and field heritage comes t…….

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