Actually a 1500 m running race when 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 4 minutes 4 seconds, set the pace for a post-war battle to run the mile in less than 4 minutes. A Rhodes scholar, Jack Lovelock also represented New Zealand at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, and also at the second Empire Games, held in London in 1934. At Princeton in 1933 he won the first American Mile of the Century Race with a world record time of 4 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 (Hodder and Stoughton, Auckland, 1986).
Excerpts from Kiwiosities, a book by Gordon Ell on the traditions and folklore of New Zealand.