Student runs away with "Chariots of Fire" record

LONDON (Reuters) - A 19-year-old student has set a new record for the race immortalised in the film “Chariots of Fire” -- Trinity College’s Great Court run -- the Cambridge University college says on its web site.

Second-year economics undergraduate Sam Dobin finished the sprint in 42.77 seconds last week, inside the previous record of 43.1 seconds set by Olympic athlete Lord Burghley 80 years ago.

The race requires participants to run round the 367-metre perimeter of the Great Court’s narrow flagstone path before all 24 chimes of the Cambridge college’s clock have rung at Midday.

In the film, the fictional Lord Lindsey, a character based on Burghley, sportingly finishes a few steps behind Harold Abrahams, who in real life won the 100m in the 1924 Paris Olympics, but did not run the Trinity race.

Double Olympic champion Sebastian Coe ran the race in 42.53 seconds in 1988 but failed to beat the chimes as the clock had been wound up the day before and had chimed more quickly than usual. His time was therefore rejected.

“It’s really surreal, I don’t know how it happened,” Dobin told the Times newspaper on Saturday. “I’ve only been training for five weeks.”

“It’s why I applied to Trinity College. When I went round the colleges choosing which one to apply to, I stood on the lines in the Great Court and thought. Wow!.”

Coe, the chairman of London Organising Committee for the 2012 Olympics, praised Dobin for his “fantastic and very rare achievement”.

The Great Court Run is normally only open to first-year students, but Dobin was granted dispensation to race as he was ill last year.

Founded by Henry VIII in 1546, Trinity’s past students include physicist Isaac Newton, philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, “Lolita” author Vladimir Nabokov, a number of poets and prime ministers as well as 32 Nobel Prize winners.

“Chariots of Fire” won an Oscar for Best Picture in 1981, though the film’s race scene was shot at Eton public school rather than Trinity.