It was through his power and speed that made Whanganui's Cooks Gardens world famous.
New Zealand is mourning the loss of one of its greatest athletes, Sir Peter Snell, who died on Friday.
And Whanganui has a special connection with the three-time Olympic gold medalist.
Snell broke the then World record and the four,-minute mile barrier at Cooks Gardens for a time of 3min 54.4sec on January 27, 1962.
It is because of Snell's record-breaking run that Russell Sears, co-ordinator of Whanganui's Sports Heritage Trust, said he was able to get runners from all over the world to come and race in Whanganui.
"He was a New Zealand athletic legend who always remembered and supported the Whanganui Athletic Club and Cooks Gardens," Sears said.
Snell's world record run as Cooks Gardens was explained in Vern Walker's book the Kiwis who Flew: "The 1962 population of Wanganui was 33,316. Reportedly, 18,000 spectators had gladly parted with their money in the hope of witnessing a new brand of New Zealand sporting history," Mr Walker wrote.
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"It was as if Snell had hoisted a large set of sails upon a favourable wind. He charged down the back straight of patchy grass."
Whenever Sears would contact Snell he would be more than happy to come to Whanganui and offer a helping hand.
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In the 1970s when the Cooks Gardens clubhouse was burnt down, Snell was in Auckland when Sears phoned him, the next day he was in Whanganui and helped to get the fundraising off the ground.
The pavilion that now stands to replace the clubhouse is named after Snell.
Born in Taranaki, his family later moved to Waikato, before he completed his schooling at Mt Albert Grammar in Auckland.
By the age of 19 he was concentrating on athletics.
He is one of New Zealand's most famous Olympians, winning three gold medals - the first for the 800m at the 1960 Rome games, then in both the 800m and 1500m in the 1964 Tokyo games.
In 1993, Sears contacted Snell who was living in Dallas, Texas, where he died, and asked if he would be interested in a reunion of the original race as it would be the last mile run on grass at Cooks Gardens.
"He was more than happy to come, he just helped everyone," he said.
After Snell retired, he came to Whanganui one weekend in 1965 for the Whanganui Open Tennis Tournament where he placed second.
Within the same weekend, he also witnessed his own record at Cooks Gardens being broken in when Jurgen May from East Germany claimed the title with 3min 53.8sec.
But Snells ties with Whanganui are held not only with athletics but in employment as well.
In 1971 when he was studying at Loughborough College in England he let it be known that Whanganui Collegiate was looking for a young man to come and teach physical education studies and be an athletics coach.
This caught the attention of Alec McNab who later applied for the role.
Snell took McNab out for a meal as an informal interview process.
"My thesis was on different builds running and Snell appeared in a lot of my studies so it was terrific to be sharing glasses with him," McNab said.
Tom Wells, who was the headmaster of Whanganui Collegiate at the time, contacted Snell to see if he knew McNab and Snell recommended him for the job.
The first thing Wells said to McNab when he arrived in New Zealand was that he owed his new job to Peter Snell.
In the later 1970s, Snell was based in Whanganui for around three months to undertake work for the Lovelock Davies Athletic Foundation.
He then returned in 2009 from Dallas, Texas to unveil a bronze statue of himself at Cooks Gardens.
The statue is sited on a concrete plinth close to the grandstand, overlooking the finishing line where Snell broke the record.
The last time Sears saw Snell was in Wellington where he donated his Olympic medals and racing memorabilia to Te Papa in 2017.
The Whanganui Sports Heritage Trust presented Snell with a cap to honour him as one of the Sub four-minute Milers in New Zealand.
Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall said a lot of people will be very sad about the passing of Snell.
"You don't win three gold medals at two different Olympics without being absolutely right up there," McDouall said.
Snell is embodied at the council chambers with his picture among the stained glass windows.
McDouall said Whanganui held a special place in terms of the mile race and that is very much because of Snell.
"They use to call him the Sherman tank on overdrive because he was a very powerfully built man he wasn't thin and light he was much more muscle."
Two years ago the Whanganui Sports Heritage Trust wanted to put on an international track meeting in his name and Snell was in full agreement.
The second Sir Peter Snell International track meeting will be held at Cooks Garden on March 14, 2020.
Sir Peter Snell died at his home in Dallas at age 80 after years of heart problems.
He was due to turn 81 on Tuesday.