The two titans of men’s wheelchair racing seek to make history by becoming the first wheelchair racers to complete the iconic mile distance in under three minutes.
Weir is confident that the record is possible. “I was so near last year but the bends in this course make it so hard,” he said. “I now know the course so well and we’ve worked out the best way to attack the time. I would love to be the first man under three minutes for the mile.”
Weir will be racing just a month after missing out on a record seventh victory at the London Marathon. Weir lost out to Boston champion Marcel Hug (SUI) and Kurt Fearnley (AUS) to place third in a sprint finish on The Mall on 24 April and is determined to get back to winning ways on the course where he has enjoyed three commanding wins since the inaugural event in 2013.
The quadruple London 2012 Paralympic Games gold medallist needs to knock more than 3 seconds off his world best from 12 months ago, but predicts van Dyk’s presence will be a major boost to help him get beneath the target time.
“It is a huge challenge but I think, given the right conditions, a sub-three-minute mile is possible, especially with myself and Ernst going head-to-head,” said Weir.
South African Van Dyk is one of the legends of wheelchair racing. He has won the Boston Marathon ten times, New York twice and finished third in London three times.
The Vitality Westminster Mile is held on the most iconic mile in the world, starting on The Mall and finishing in front of Buckingham Palace. It was launched in 2013 to build on the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Organised by London Marathon Events Limited, in partnership with Westminster City Council, there are categories for all ages and abilities, so everyone can take part.
There are races for families, adults and veterans, juniors, elite athletes and wheelchair users. The Vitality Westminster Mile also features the Vitality Wellness Festival in Green Park. There will be a sports area in the park with freestyle football, sprint track athletics and BMX; inflatable games; music on the Bandstand; exercise classes including yoga and pilates in the Vitality Studio; a huge range of giveaways – and it’s all free.