The Sub 4 Minute Miler

Bannister leading John Landy
Roger Bannister leading John Landy

Well if Track & Field News can create a list why can’t Runnerstribe! After some research, we have created a listing in chronological order of all our male sub 4-minute milers in Australia. The list contains the who’s who of Australian middle distance running, which of course started with none other than the great John Landy.

On 21 June 1954, at an international meet at Turku, Finland, Landy became the second man, after Roger Bannister, to achieve a sub-4-minute mile, recording a world record time of 3:57.9, ratified by the IAAF as 3:58.0 owing to the rounding rules then in effect. That record held for more than three years.

Interesting Fact: In the 18 months after Bannister broke the 4 minute barrier it  was broken another 40 times. The realisation for so many others that it was possible opened the flood gates.

The one statistic that is even more amazing is how many times Pat Scammell broke the magical 4 minute barrier. He broke through the barrier on no fewer than 28 occasions, with Mike Hillardt coming in at no.2 at 24.

The Top List of Sub 4 Minute Miles Completed:

  1. Pat Scammell (28)
  2. Mike Hillardt (24)
  3. Herb Elliott (17)
  4. Graham Crouch (15)
  5. Ryan Gregson* (14)
  6. Craig Mottram* (14)
  7. Simon Doyle (11)
  8. Ken Hall (9)
  9. John Landy (6)
  10. Collis Birmingham*, Merv Lincoln, Mike Power, Jeff Riseley* and Mark Fountain (5)

*still active athletes

The Australian record still stands at 3.48.98 – when Craig Mottram placed 5th at the famous Oslo mile in 2005.

The Chronological List – Australian Men (Mile Rankings)

There are a few notes to accompany the list:

  • We acknowledge the assistance of Athletics Australia and AllTime Athletics in producing the listing below.
  • We acknowledge Dave ‘Robbo’ Robertson in inspiring us to complete the list
  • Any amendments are most welcome
  • Please note that any athlete who has switched alliance to another country only have their performances when running for Australia included in the list below (e.g Brenton Rowe (AUT) and Kevin Batt (NIR)
  • The list does not include indoor performances from Ryan Foster (3.58.49 in 2011) and Matt Gibney (3.58.12 OT in 2011)


  1. Here is one that was not then but would be under current timings

    Robert Hendy set his Club Mile record of 4mins 0.01secs in 1972, the ‘other’ two watches recorded times under the magical four minutes. Unfortunately in those days of manual timing, the slowest time shown on the time pieces became the official result.

  2. Hello Chris, just saw this doing some other research. Same thing happened to me in ~1969. 3:59.8, 3:59.9, 4:00.1. Time 4:00.1

  3. I didn’t see this mark on the Australian list:
    Chris Fisher, 1st; May 18, 1975; Eugene, Oregon, USA. He ran sub-4 in 1971, which is on the list above, and ran in the 1976 Olympics, for Australia. So this 1975 mark was overlooked or perhaps he represented another country by then.

  4. Oh, and Fisher’s time was 3:57.3. It was an ITA meet (which I believes stands for International Track Association). It was considered a “professional” meet. It was a WPR, which I will again assume, probably stands for World Professional Record.

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