He achieved this feat on 6 May 1954 at Iffley Road track in Oxford, with Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher providing the pacing. When at the finish of the race the announcer (Norris McWhirter -who went on to co-publish and co-edit The Guinness Book of Records) declared:
"Ladies and gentlemen, here is the result of event nine, the one mile: first, number forty one, R. G. Bannister, Amateur Athletic Association and formerly of Exeter and Merton Colleges, Oxford, with a time which is a new meeting and track record, and which—subject to ratification—will be a new English Native, British National, All-Comers, European, British Empire and World Record. The time was three..." the cheers of the crowd drowned out Bannister's exact time, which was 3 min 59.4 sec.
Bannister's record lasted just 46 days, as on 21 June in Turku, Finland, the record was again broken by his rival the Australian John Landy with a time of 3 min 57.9 s, which the IAAF ratified as 3 min 58.0 s due to the rounding rules then in effect.
Bannister had reached this record with so little training, while practising as a junior doctor. He went on to become a distinguished neurologist and Master of Pembroke College, Oxford, before retiring in 1993. When asked whether the 4-minute mile was his proudest achievement, he said he felt prouder of his contribution to academic medicine through research into the responses of the nervous system. Bannister is patron of The MSA Trust. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2011.