Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The Greatest Athletic Achievement in History

Roger Bannister, of course.

The four-minute mile was one of the most cherished, most publicized athletic standard in history. It was a towering mental barrier as well as a physical one. Roger Bannister, though, broke through. He did so on extremely low mileage, by today's standards, as well as running on a cinder track.

It was an incredible achievement of will.

When I was a boy, I read Bannister's biography, The Four-Minute Mile. It was riveting, and even today, I can remember his recounting of the race. I still remember the names of his two pacers--Brasher and Chataway, and I believe Brasher's first name was Chris--even though I read about them forty-five years ago.

It was heroic stuff, and even today, more men have climbed Mount Everest than have run a four-minute mile (boy, that puts things in perspective, doesn't it?).

Bannister quit running soon after to complete medical school, and had a long and highly distinguished career as a neurologist. When I think of the word "sportsman", I think of him--he was a fierce competitor, but also a gentleman.

Anyway, here's a video of the full race, and it's the best 3:59.4 you'll spend all year: The Four-Minute Mile Turns 60.

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