The thing about sport is that it’s constantly moving on, constantly improving, constantly evolving.

Records that were set in previous decades are surpassed and, almost always, entirely forgotten.

There’s one record, however, that despite not withstanding the test of time in the record books, has certainly stood the test of time within athletics folklore.

70 years ago tomorrow, athletics’ most famous record was broken.

On the 6th of May 1954, Roger Bannister did what had been deemed by many to be impossible; he ran a sub four-minute mile.

Glasgow Times: Roger Bannister.

It’s astonishing how, even seven decades on, the breaking of this record still evokes so many emotions.

Of the thousands of world records that have been broken since, none have achieved similarly legendary status, and this says it all about the magnitude of his achievement.

There’s not a single part of the story of the first-ever sub four-minute mile that doesn’t fascinate me.

From the build-up to the attempt to the aftermath to Bannister himself, it’s an astonishing tale and likely contributes to the longevity of the adulation of the record.

The quest to run a four-minute mile had been on-going for literally centuries prior to Bannister’s arrival on the athletics scene.

There are reports from the 1880s, and even before, of athletes chasing the record.

However, it was in the mid-twentieth century that breaking it began to be taken more seriously but at that point, the four-minute mark was seen as the Holy Grail of athletic achievement, and it was seen as a barrier that was impossible to break through.

Well, it was seen as impossible by many but crucially, not by Bannister.

In the years preceding his 1954 attempt, others had been edging closer and closer to the revered four-minute mark.

In the 1940s, two talented Swedes, Gunder Hägg and Arne Andersen came agonisingly close to surpassing the mark.

Between them, they edged the record down to 4 minutes 1.4 seconds, set in 1945 by Hägg, before the pair were banned for violating amateur sport rules.

And there the record remained for nearly a decade.

Of the athletes in pursuit of the record at that time, the most serious were American Wes Santee, who was a highly-talented runner and who wrote in his high school year book in 1950 that he would break the record in the coming years, and Australian John Landy, who took athletics training to a new level and who, interestingly, was flying to Finland for a fresh attempt at the record when Bannister achieved the feat.

Bannister himself was far from what one would consider an elite athlete these days.

It’s reported that, as a medical student, his academic endeavours allowed him only one hour a day to train.

Interestingly though, it was his medical background that led him to be one of the few who knew that barriers such as the four-minute mark were far from unbreakable given several men had come so close.

Bannister’s attempt itself, on May the 6th 1954, very nearly never happened at all.

It was widely accepted that to run sub-four minutes, conditions would need to be perfect and for the Englishman, this was far from the case.

So strong were the winds at the Iffley Road track in Oxford, the 26-year-old Bannister very nearly called-off his attempt.

At the last minute, though, the wind dropped and Bannister decided to give it a go.

Paced by his compatriots, Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher, Bannister ran for his life.

The roar of the crowd was deafening when it became clear he’d run 3 minutes 59.4 seconds.

So monumental was his achievement, it’s been likened by many to the first-ever conquering of Mount Everest.

Bannister’s run, as impressive a single achievement as it was, revealed so much more than merely the time on the stopwatch.

It gave us one of the greatest lessons in sporting history about the power of the mind and for anyone who doubts the mind is as powerful as any muscle in the body, look at the progression of the mile world record.

Within a mere 46 days, Australian, Landy, became the second man to break the four-minute barrier, running 3 minutes 58.0 seconds and just four years later, the record had been lowered to 3 minutes 54.5 seconds by Herb Elliot.

Clearly, man had not significantly evolved physically in such a short space of time so here is definitive proof, if ever it was needed, that the belief that something is possible is infinitely more valuable than the physical capability of being able to do it.

Bannister himself went onto become a highly-respected neurologist and although he’s primarily known for his athletic exploits, he was always quick to remind people it was his medical career of which he was more proud.

These days, in a world in which super-spikes, state-of the art synthetic tracks and intricately devised, full-time training programmes, running a sub-four-minute mile is seen as nothing particularly remarkable anymore, at least not in elite circles.

Since Bannister’s achievement, hundreds of sub-four-minute miles have been run.

Yet the magic of that first one, 70 years ago, remains.

The next iconic athletic barrier to be broken is likely the sub-two-hour marathon, something that is being edged closer and closer to.

It’ll happen at some point, just as the four-minute mile happened.

But as great an achievement as that’ll be, it’ll still struggle to obtain the acclaim the four-minute mile has received over the past 70 years.

On the 60th anniversary of his record-breaking run, Bannister, who died in 2018 aged 88, said: “It was just something which caught the public’s imagination. I think it still remains something that is of interest and intrigue.”

He was right. And that interest and intrigue will continue with every passing anniversary.