By Laura Schocker
It's been 10 years since the current world record for running the mile was set - so why hasn't it been broken Does the mile still matter as a middle-distance event, and who runs it these days
A decade ago, Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj broke the record for running the mile by clocking in at three minutes and 43 seconds.
El Guerrouj, often called the King of the Mile, was the second north African in a row to take this coveted title. But for years, this had been a distance held most dear by those in the English-speaking world.
Roger Bannister, the first man to break the four-minute mile, in 1954, is still a household name in Britain. And by the early 1980s, a trio of British runners battled each other to break, and break again, the world record for running a mile.
Between 1979 and 1985, British middle-distance legends Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram traded the world record title between each other six times - at one point Coe ran away with the title just two days after Ovett had earned it. Ultimately Cram secured the record for several years, at three minutes and 46 seconds.
But a glance at the record books reveals that since then there have been just two world-beating times. El Guerrouj's record in 1999 has stood for longer than any other since 1913 - when the International Association of Athletics Federations began keeping pace.
So what's happened since Have times got so tight it's becoming ever more difficult to be a world beater, or has the mile simply fallen out of favour among the world's top runners
One expert firmly believes it's the latter.
"The mile has been devalued, there's no doubt about it," says John Bale, a professor at Keele University and author of Roger Bannister and the Four-Minute Mile. "There's no gossip that 'so and so' or 'so and so' is getting close to the record. It's kind of static in a way."
Bannister, now Sir Roger, concurs. "It's not as serious as it was before the four-minute mile had been done," he tells the BBC News Magazine.