Stories / March 2019

Iffley Road: Going the Distance

Built upon a passion for running, Iffley Road is renowned for its construction of smart and understated technical sportswear designed to be worn on and off the track.

On a gusty evening in May, 1954, athlete Roger Bannister ran the first sub-four-minute mile at the Iffley Road track in Oxford. He broke through the tape in 3:59:4, beating the record set nine years earlier by Sweden’s Gunder Hägg and, in doing so, re-writing sporting history.

Bannister’s tenacious spirit and passion for the sport of running still serves as inspiration for many, not least husband and wife Bill Byrne and Claire Kent, founders of sportswear label Iffley Road, which they launched on 6th May 2013, the 59th anniversary of the fateful four-minute mile.

“Claire and I have run all our adult lives and we’d long felt there’s no running wear that we felt proud to run in and would love to run in ourselves,” says Bill. “If you think about it, it’s a real shame that Britain as a nation of runners hasn’t produced such a brand. I mean we’re named after Iffley Road where Bannister broke the first four-minute mile, and running is such a big part of British athleticism.”

From Claire and Bill’s passion for running came their commitment to crafting high-quality sportswear that is both technical and stylish. The majority of Iffley Road’s garments are made at the label’s state-of-the-art factory in northern Portugal, using durable, breathable fabrics sourced from within Europe. Its t-shirts and vests are constructed using its own super-soft bespoke drirelease® micro-blend, woven in a piqué finish to ensure the natural wicking of sweat and ultra-fast drying. Jackets and gilets all feature a lightweight, state-of-the-art Italian triple-layer soft shell, and winter tops, base layers and beanies are made from 100% Italian merino, which regulates body temperature in all conditions and has antibacterial properties to keep wearers odour free.

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Aobh O'Brien-Moody

Editorial Assistant at The Rake