10 Jun

Dream Comes True

Steve Cram Dream Mile

As well as being an avid runner, I am also a big fan of the sport. So this week, I am thrilled to be knocking off one of my ‘bucket list’ running events by witnessing the iconic Dream Mile event at the Bislett Games in Oslo (writes Chris Broadbent).

I can recall watching my first ever Dream Mile. It also happened to be one of the most revered of the historic annual race in the Norwegian capital. It was on a Saturday night in 1985. With my mum, dad and sister we just returned from a night watching speedway racing in Manchester – it’s funny how you remember the little details from childhood.

I burst through the front door knowing that the Bislett Games were on television, desperate not to miss the big race of the evening. Luckily, we just made it. My love of athletics had been fostered the previous summer by watching the Los Angeles Olympics.

I think most people with even a passing interest in sport always remember the first Olympics they watched. Stars like Daley Thompson, Carl Lewis and Tessa Sanderson were now major celebrities to me. But it was the middle-distance events that really grabbed me.

Seb Coe, Steve Cram and Steve Ovett were a big deal – so it seem – to everyone else too. It might seem ridiculous in today’s football-dominated sporting world. But these British athletes were regular back page news. I was a Coe fan. I’m not exactly sure why.

Maybe it was his electrifying sprint finish or maybe it’s just because he won the Olympics – it always seems much more fun supporting the winners when you are 11 years old. I recall really wanting Coe to beat Cram in the Dream Mile. The race was loaded with world-class runners, but for me it was all about these two British runners.

The atmosphere seemed to come through the television. The crowd banging on the advertising boards as they leaned within touching distance of the floodlit runners as they roared through the laps. David Coleman’s commentary added real gravitas to the occasion.

The excitement was building as the pace wound up and they entered the final lap to the clang of the bell. Cram began to stretch down the back straight and by the crest of the final bend it was obvious Coe was beaten. He could not live with Cram's relentless surge. Cram looked magnificent. He continued to pull away and flew down the home straight to a new world record of 3:46.32 (still the UK record) and straight into a bundle of photographers, officials and whoever else couldn’t contain themselves. I was disappointed that Coe had not won, but it had been thrilling and fully justified the hype. 30 years on I’ll finally get to see this special event in person.

I’m 41 now, but I reckon I might just give those advertising boards a bang.