Top middle-distance runners aim to break the four-minute barrier in London later this month.
Chris O’Hare, Jake Wightman and Charlie Grice lead the men’s entries, while the women’s race boasts five Commonwealth Games finalists including Sarah McDonald and Melissa Courtney.
The cream of Britain’s male middle-distance runners will attempt to break the historic four-minute barrier at the Vitality Westminster Mile to pay their respects to the legendary Sir Roger Bannister – the first man to run under the magical mark.
Bannister – who famously broke the four-minute mile barrier in 1954 – died in March, aged 88, and the latest generation of British middle-distance stars want to commemorate his passing by emulating his landmark achievement at the Vitality Westminster Mile on Sunday 27 May.
Commonwealth Games 1500m bronze medallist Jake Wightman (Edinburgh AC) and his fellow finalists Charlie Grice (Brighton Phoenix) and Chris O’Hare (Edinburgh AC) are the leading contenders to run sub-four in a star-studded field.
The women’s race promises to be equally as entertaining with five Commonwealth Games finalists in the field including Melissa Courtney who won a bronze medal in the 1500m on the Gold Coast. Up against her will be fellow 1500m finalists Sarah McDonald and Jess Judd plus 3000m steeplechase fourth placer Rosie Clarke.
No athlete has run under four minutes over the course since the event was first held in 2013, with two-time winner Nick Goolab going closest when he clocked 4:01 to win in 2016. Goolab is set to return fresh from clocking a personal best 13:50 to win Ipswich 5k on Saturday night (May 12).
Wightman, who is currently training at altitude in Flagstaff, Arizona, said: “After a month at altitude I hope to be in the sort of shape to run under four minutes at the Vitality Westminster Mile and I think, with the passing of Sir Roger Bannister, this year it would be nice for that to happen. It will be added motivation.
“You always want to test yourself against the best and I think the quality of the field as a whole will mean a sub-four clocking is definitely possible so we need to get after it.”
Wightman, Grice and O’Hare have all run well inside four minutes on the road with Wightman’s personal best (PB) of 3:52.9, set at the New Balance 5th Avenue Mile last year, the quickest. O’Hare has a road best of 3:53 and Grice a PB of 3:57. But both Grice and O’Hare have pedigree on the Westminster Mile course with Grice winning in 2013 and O’Hare in 2014.
Grice, who was fourth, one place behind Wightman, in the Commonwealth Games 1500m final, said: “I’m really excited to race the Westminster Mile this year. I got the win there in 2013 and I remember it was a really big deal for me because it was one of the first senior races I won.
“I am sure this year will be a great race, domestically we are very strong right now, so hopefully we can get a sub-four clocking.”
As well as the trio of the country’s leading milers, the Vitality Westminster Mile field will also include the reigning indoor and outdoor British 800m champion Elliot Giles.
The race starts on The Mall and does a lap of St James’s Park, turning right down Horse Guard’s Road and then Birdcage Walk before finishing in front of Buckingham Palace.
Wightman, who described his bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games as a ‘huge milestone in my career’, added: “It’s important for me to start the (summer) season well and the Vitality Westminster Mile seems like a great place to do it. It’s always nice opening up in the UK and I’m looking forward to soaking up what looks like a great atmosphere.”
As well as the senior races, there will be British Athletics One Mile Road Race championships in the under-13 to under-20 age groups. There will also be, for the first time this year, a Vitality Masters Mile open to runners aged 35 and over.
Sir Mo Farah will also be at the event to run with families in the Family Waves, with people getting the chance to #RunWithMo
The programme also includes family races, school races and The Olympians Mile which brings together athletes who have competed for Great Britain in any sport in an Olympic Games.
Elite men’s field
Jake Wightman (Edinburgh AC)
Charlie Grice (Brighton Phoenix)
Chris O’Hare (Edinburgh AC)
Tom Marshall (Cardiff AC)
Ieuan Thomas (Cardiff AC)
Steve Mitchell (Bristol West)
Nick Goolab (Belgrave Harriers)
Michael Wilsmore (Bristol)
Rowan Axe (Cardiff AC)
Tom Hook (City of Norwich AC)
Shaun Wyllie (Bracknell AC)
Robbie Fitzgibbon (Brighton Phoenix)
Zak Seddon (Bracknell AC)
Phil Sesemann (Blackheath & Bromley AC)
John Ashcroft (Liverpool Harriers)
Sean Molloy (Tonbridge AC)
Jack Hallas (Birchfield Harriers)
Rob Umeokafor (Birchfield Harriers)
Jonathan Davies (Reading AC)
Jake Heyward (Cardiff AC)
Elliot Giles (Birchfield Harriers)
Will Fuller (Blackheath & Bromley AC)
Jamie Webb (Liverpool Harriers)
Dale Clutterbuck (Newham & Essex Beagles)
Harvey Dixon (Aldershot Farnham & District AC)
Anthony Wightman (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers)
Tom Horton (Hallamshire Harriers)
Elite women’s field
Jade Williams (Amman Valley)
Charlotte Taylor Green (Bristol & West)
Jenna Hill (Sale Harriers)
Sarah McDonald (Birchfield Harriers)
Rosie Clarke (Epsom & Ewell)
Amy Griffiths (Aldershot & Farnham District AC)
Harrier Knowles-Jones (Warrington AC)
Jess Judd (Chelmsford AC)
Hannah England (Oxford City)
Lily Coward (Invicta)
Sophie Connor (Shaftesbury Barnet)
Tamara Armoush (Birchfield Harriers)
Revee Walcott-Nolan (Luton)
Hannah Viner (Highgate)
Sarah Astin (City of Norwich)
Melissa Courtney (Poole AC)
Georgie Hartigan (Birchfield Harriers)
Holly Archer (Cambridge & Coleridge)
Claire Tarplee (Solihull)
Beth Kidger (Brighton Phoenix)