It seems as though everyone and particularly those with an interest in sport, know that Roger Bannister was the first person to break the four minute mile. Which is not surprising for such a mementos feat. But, how many people are aware that just 23 days later, on 29th May 1954, Diane Leather of Birchfield Harriers became the first woman to run a mile in less than 5 minutes?
The reason being that the IAAF ratifies all world records in athletics and in 1954 did not recognise the mile as a distance for women (and did not do so until 1967). In 1954 the longest internationally recognised distances for women were 800m and 880 yards.
This race at the Midlands Women's AAA Championships had not been Diane Leather's first attempt to break the 5 minute barrier. In fact she had also attempted it 3 days earlier, on 26th May at Birmingham, where she narrowly missed out, with a time of 5.00.02. There is a Pathe News film of this attempt which can be viewed here
I don't know about the race when Diane Leather ran the first sub 5 minute mile. But, it is interesting to note when watching the 'Pathe' footage that unlike Roger Bannisters sub 4, there were no pace-makers used and that she pulls away from the rest of the field midway through the race.