Excerpts from Kiwiosities, a book by Gordon Ell on the traditions and folklore of New Zealand.
Actually a 1500 running race when Jack New Zealander Jack Lovelock clipped a second off the world record with 3 minutes 47.8 seconds at the 1936 Berlin Olympic games. The result, the equivalent of running a mile in four minutes four seconds, set the pace for a post-war battle to win the mile in less than four minutes.
A Rhodes Scholar, Jack Lovelock also represented New Zealand at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, and also ran at the second Empire Games, held in London in 1934. At Princeton in 1933 he won The First American Mile of the Century with a world record time of four minutes 7.6 seconds. Lovelock continued to live abroad and was killed when he fell in front of a train in New York in 1949. His enigmatic personality has inspired varied sports journalism, a short film and the novel Lovelock by James McNeish