Accomplishing the Impossible

Posted: May 7, 2014 in In Transition, Run
Tags: ,

Today is a landmark occasion for running as it was 60 years ago today in 1954 that Roger Bannister did the impossible:  break the 4 minute mile.

Huh.  Lookitme posting about running n’ shit.

Yup, it was sixty years ago – on a windy Tuesday as a matter of fact – that Bannister collapsed into a swarm of men wearing stiff macs and bowler hats, his body feeling “like an exploding flashbulb” as he fell in total exhaustion.  It has since become known as one of the most iconic sporting moments in history.  Prior to this, it was deemed virtually impossible for a human being to go that fast.  Bannister had intended to retire after the 1952 Olympics, but having only come in 4th in the 1500m  final, hung on for another two years to make an attempt on the holy grail of middle distance running.

The story has it, that knowing full well that two other milers had the same intent – John Landy of Australia and Wes Santee of the USA – Bannister ran very early in the season at Iffley Road in Oxford, and, paced by his old friends Brasher and Chataway, came home under the magical time, taking 2 seconds off of Gunder Hägg’s nine year old mile World Record.  Amazingly after all the hype the record only stood for six weeks, when John Landy ran 3.57.9 in Finland.  Bannister then went on that season to defeat Landy in the “Mile of the Century” in the Empire Games, before winning the European 1500m  title and then retiring from the sport, aged 25.

To commemorate this feat, here is it in its entirety:


They say that fewer people have run a sub-four-minute mile than have climbed Mt. Everest.  Whoopee shit.  So why is this significant?  Even just a few years ago I wouldn’t have given two shits about Bannister either and any mention of ‘four mile’ would only have been dismissed with extreme prejudice as simply an overplayed song by an overrated white boy rapper wannabe.  However, I think much differently now about Bannister, this accomplishment…and even that Eminem track for that matter (it’s true).  Yes, I see it all much differently.

I see it now as a symbol of triumph in the face of adversity; an example of surpassing expectation.  Proof that the mind and spirit can conquer all.  And THAT,  folks, also happens to be my prime modus operandi as I get geared up for another season of triathlon and I have a lot to prove to myself, namely, be tough, be fast and – most importantly – dare to be great.  Forget what others tell me is possible, or what I tell myself for that matter.  It’s all possible.

Maybe a fitting mantra for my training going forward would be “Be Like Bannister”.


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