David Weir and Marcel Hug will go head-to-head over one mile in a two-pronged attack on the three-minute barrier at the Bupa Westminster Mile road racing festival in central London on Sunday 24 May.
The two titans of men’s wheelchair racing will not only battle each other on the roads around St James’s Park, but take on the clock too as they seek to make history by becoming the first wheelchair racers to complete the iconic distance in under three minutes.
Weir will be going for a Westminster Mile hat-trick just a month after coming within one second of a record seventh victory at the London Marathon. Weir lost out to Joshua George in a sprint finish on The Mall on 26 April and is determined to get back to winning ways on the course where he has twice enjoyed commanding wins since the inaugural event in 2013.
The quadruple London 2012 Paralympic Games gold medallist needs to knock a seven-second chunk from his course record from 12 months ago, but predicts Hug’s presence will be enough incentive to push him beneath the target time.
“It will be a huge challenge but I think, given the right conditions, a sub-three-minute mile is possible, especially with myself and Marcel going head-to-head,” said Weir.
“In the last two years I haven’t really had anyone to push me to the limit, but Marcel is my biggest rival and I know he will be doing everything he can to beat me. With both of us going for victory, the three-minute barrier may well be within reach.”
Hug outsprinted Weir to win the London Marathon title in 2014 but had to abandon half way through this year’s race with a puncture giving the Swiss star added incentive to prove his worth on his return to London.
“I was bitterly disappointed not to be able to defend my London Marathon title in fitting style last month,” said Hug, who won five gold medals at the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships. “This race gives me a chance to bounce back and show the British public what I can do at my best.
“I am relishing the chance to race against David again in London, and would love to be the first man under three minutes for one mile. It is a tough target, but I am sure with both of us fighting to win, it is one we can reach.”
A three-minute mile by one of the world’s two greatest wheelchair racers would be a fitting highlight for the three-year-old event which this year marks the 30th anniversary of Steve Cram’s world mile record at Oslo’s Bislett Stadium in July 1985.
Cram’s record of 3:46.32, set during an extraordinary 19-day period when he ran three world records, was unbeaten for almost eight years and still stands as the British record today.
The 2015 Bupa Westminster Mile will commemorate Cram’s achievement as the world’s biggest festival of mile running. Some 7,000 runners – from elites to amateurs to families with young children – are expected to take part in more than 30 races around St James’s Park, starting on The Mall and finishing on Spur Road in front of Buckingham Palace.
The Bupa Westminster Mile is staged in partnership with Westminster City Council as part of Westminster’s commitment to encourage more people to take up sport and be more physically active.
The Bupa Westminster Mile also marks the start of Bupa’s new Feel Great Britain mission to encourage and inspire the nation to enjoy feel great moments. As well as a day-long programme including mile races for families, wheelchairs, veterans and women-only events, plus the British Athletics One-Mile Road Championships, the Bupa Westminster Mile promises a fun day out for all the family. In addition to live music all day, there will be plenty of feel great activities, including yoga masterclasses, children’s activities, wildlife trails, an arts and crafts tent, and even an epic helter skelter.