THE world has changed beyond recognition since Sir Roger Bannister became the first man to run a mile in under four minutes on May 6 1954 – and athletics has changed with it.
There were no digital clocks for Bannister, no nutritional experts or sport scientists, and no scientifically engineered shoes and clothing.
There weren’t even any full-time athletes. Bannister had to travel to Iffley Road, Oxford, for his date with destiny only after he had completed his shift at a London hospital.
But for all the differences between 1954 and 2019, the record attempts are, at their very core, the same: man against clock.
For Bannister 65 years ago, however, it was not just one man against the clock, but three.
Famously he had two celebrated pacemakers – Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher – who were with him for nearly three-and-a-half of the four laps that make up a mile on the track.
And for Kipchoge in 2019 the same will be true.
He too will have a cast list of stellar pacemakers.
However, there will be more than two of them to help.
In all, 24 athletes – all stars in their own right – will be involved.
“The pacemakers will play a vital role on the day in terms of not only setting an even, constant pace but also protecting me from the wind,” said Eliud.
Bernard Lagat, captain of the pacemakers, said prior to the race: “We are here to make sure everything goes smoothly. We want to make sure that when Eliud steps on the starting line that he is confident because his pacemakers are confident and ready to help.”
Bannister may have crossed the line first in 1954 but he was quick to acknowledge the help of his friends.
For him, the record belonged to the team as much as it did to him individually.
Just like Bannister, Eliud recognises the importance of the team.
“100 percent of me is nothing compared to one percent of the team,” he said.
The team, who will be there to support Eliud in Vienna, are athletes he trains with every day at the Global Sports Communication camp in Kaptagat, Kenya, former rivals and runners from all corners of the globe.
It will be a team of running superstars, all united in a plan to keep him on pace to break the barrier, just like Brasher and Chataway did 65 years ago.