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Original Issue

A frustrated five-minute miler gathers the facts about sub-four-minute miles

Only a trivia fan with a photographic memory is likely to know what Harry Downes, Andy Green, Miroslav Juza, Bill McKim, Gerard Vervoort and DeVilliers Lamprecht have in common. If you add Roger Bannister to the list the answer may be easier, for what each member of this diverse group has done is run a mile in less than four minutes.

The Four Minute Mile 1954-1967, a magnificently detailed book compiled by James O. Dunaway, gathers together for the first time all the statistical milestones in the march of track's showcase event. Bannister, Herb Elliott, Peter Snell, Jim Ryun and all the other top milers are in there, too, of course. Compiler Dunaway has listed each sub-four-minute-mile race (there have been 145 of them) in chronological order, and no important date has escaped his list: the date, the locale, the meet, each runner in each race, his finishing time and even his quarter-mile-lap times. The only item of information left out seems to be the color of the starter's socks. Even the most casual track fan should get pleasure from flipping through this book's neatly ordered pages, for, along with the vital statistics, there are reminders of many long-forgotten facts: item, New Zealand's Bill Baillie, who competed in the U.S. just this winter, ran last (4:11) in the historic mile-of-the-century race between Bannister and John Landy; item, Ron Clarke, the 29-year-old Australian who has most of the world's long-distance-running records in his pocket, set a world junior-mile record back in January 1956 as an 18-year-old schoolboy, posting a brisk 4:07.6 behind John Landy's 3:58.6 (Clarke, concentrating on longer races, has improved on that mile time by only six seconds in the succeeding 11 years); item, Peter Snell's first world mile record of 3:54.4 was set on a grass track that was a tight 385 yards to the lap, 55 yards short of the conventional distance.

This kind of information is not always easy to come by, and Dunaway spent a year collecting his data, poring over back issues of track magazines and writing letters to scores of coaches, runners, friends, sports-writers and track statisticians all over the world. Then he proofread his copy four times. "A book like this is valuable in inverse proportion to the number of errors in it," says Dunaway, a copy group head at the Ted Bates advertising agency in New York City, a track nut since his undergraduate days at Penn State (class of '49) and still a frustrated miler himself (his best, 5:48). Author Dunaway is also his own publisher and distributor. You can get his book by sending $1 to the author at 239 East 79th Street, New York City 10021.