Even people with little interest in track and field know that the late Sir Roger Bannister was the first man to run a mile in under four minutes.

Many in Whanganui will know that Sir Peter Snell in breaking the world mile record at Cooks Gardens was the first Cooks Gardens sub-four minute miler with the first run in New Zealand.

However, not so many know who was the second to achieve the mark after Roger Bannister, or, who was the second runner to achieve the significant mark at Cooks Gardens after Peter Snell.

For the record John Landy of Australia was the second person to run under four minutes closely followed by the English runner Derek Ibbotson who was also ran exactly four minutes and is thus the subject of a good pub trivia question "who was the first four minute miler".


Bruce Tulloh was the second to run under 4 minutes at Cooks Gardens and in New Zealand when he finished second to Snell on the famous night in 1962.

Sadly Tulloh died at the end of last month.

Roger Robinson, who has often announced at Cooks Gardens and did so at this year's Cooks Classic, was able to visit his old friend shortly before he died and presented Tulloh with his Whanganui Sports Heritage Trust Cooks Gardens sub four cap.

This was well received by Tulloh and his family.

As Robinson wrote in Tulloh's obituary in the prestigious British athletics publication Athletics Weekly – "Tulloh, the European 5000m champion in 1962, one of Britain's best and most popular runners of the 1960s, trans-America record breaker and an ongoing influential figure in British athletics as a coach and writer died on April 28 at his home".

The bare-footed Tulloh was one of the runners that inspired me as a young runner and it is interesting to note that leading former British runner Brendan Foster, also a later European 5000m champion, remembers being dragged in from playing football by his father to watch Tulloh's European Championship victory and later said that it was "my first inspiration".

I had hoped to meet Tulloh when I did a short stint of coaching at Marlborough College in 2008.

Tulloh had taught and coached for many years at Marlborough but unfortunately he was overseas at the time of my visit.


The short spell at Marlborough followed a short leave of absence granted to me after taking the Wanganui Collegiate team to the Czech Republic as the boys school representing New Zealand.

Interestingly the tour leader of the combined schools and New Zealand selected team in the Czech Republic was Norman Morrison who I had not met since 1967 when we ran against each other at the School's International in Glasgow.

Morrison, a fellow Scot won the mile race running for English Schools, your writer a Scot running for Welsh Schools was second and the Scot running for Scottish Schools was third, a Scottish trifecta in the eight-strong race. I joined the long line of forgotten seconds.

Morrison later became the second Scotsman to break the four minute mark in Leicester in 1971 with a time of 3:58.7 that still ranks 18th on the Scottish all time list.

Morrison emigrated to New Zealand after the Commonwealth Games in 1974 to teach at Mount Roskill College.

The first Scottish sub four minute runner was Ian McCafferty in 1969 and a year later went on to win a Commonwealth Gold in Edinburgh over 5000m.

While cynics often say that second place is first loser I believe that we should not forget the many outstanding second place getters and those that were second setting significant performances.

I hope winners and other leading performers go on inspiring young athletes in the way I was inspired by Bruce Tulloh.

Next week I will preview the Whanganui Secondary Schools Cross Country.

The Cross Country returns to Tawhero Golf course the venue of the 1991 New Zealand Secondary Schools Cross Country.

The three grades (Year 9, under 16 and seniors for both genders) will attract entries from the nine schools that make up the Whanganui Schools region.

Races start at 1.30pm next Thursday (May 24).