Defining “fast” when it comes to human running can be broken into three segments. There will always be debates about whether “fastest” should be defined over short, medium, or long distances. The most often used short distance to judge speed is for the 100-meter sprint which takes as little as 10 seconds, the one-mile run which takes under four minutes, and the marathon where the fastest runners can finish in slightly more than two hours.
For centuries, it was widely believed that no one could run a mile in less than four minutes. The barrier was broken on May 6, 1954, when 25-year-old Roger Bannister covered the distance in 3:59.4.
It would seem easy to calculate the amount of time it takes to cover a mile. However, the measure has not been without controversy. Wind speed can affect race times. Trailing winds can improve times. As a matter of fact, some records are not official if wind speeds are high enough.
The fastest mile run in history was by Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco on July 7 1999 in Rome. His time was 3:43.13. The mile was run outdoors. He also holds records in the 1500 meters and 2000 meters. He has run sub-3:46 miles on five other occasions–1998, 1997, 2001, 1997 and 2000.
Hicham El Guerrouj was born on September 14, 1974, in Berkane, Morocco. He is 5 feet, 9 inches tall. Throughout most of his career, he weighed about 130 pounds. He won two Gold Medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics. One was for the 1,500 meters and the other for the 5,000 meters. According to the BBC:
But it wasn’t until the 2004 Games in Athens that he won gold in the Olympic 1500m. In this final he was described by commentators as running the perfect 1500m race. He returned to the track to win gold in the 5000m, the first man since Paavo Nurmi in 1924 to win both Olympic title.
He retired in 2006.