As in 1896, the race was marked by its failure to attract a top field. Scotsman Hugh Welsh had retired, and although several of the top milers were in Paris – George Orton, Alex Grant, and John Cregan (who between them would win 12 consecutive AAU miles – 1892-1903) – none of them contested the 1,500, presumably because it was held on a Sunday.
Britain’s Charles Bennett led through the first lap (500 metres in 1:21.2), trailed closely by the French champion Henri Deloge. The second lap was finished in the dawdling time of 2:56 (1:34.8 for the second 500), with no change in positions. In a wild sprint finish, Bennett was never headed, although he only opened up a lead in the last few metres, running the last lap in a blazing, even for today, 1:10.2 for 500 metres. The time, 4:06.2, was a world record, but it was markedly inferior to Tom Conneff’s amateur mile record of 4:15.6.