Bringing the Text to Life
That’s what people said about the possibility of running a mile in less than four minutes. Sports commentators claimed that it simply couldn’t be done. Physiologists believed that the human body and mind would rise up and rebel against the strain of such a race. The four-minute mile came to be seen as a barrier that no human being would ever be able to break.
Then, in the spring of 1954, exactly 50 years ago, Roger Bannister stepped onto the track.
He was a British medical student and runner for the Amateur Athletic Association, a young man absolutely determined to break the barrier. Bannister knew that many outstanding milers had attempted to achieve the goal, including one who had missed by a mere 1.5 seconds. But Bannister would not allow the four-minute threshold to intimidate him.
On a cold and windy spring day, he took his place at the starting line of a track in Oxford, England. There were about 3,000 spectators in the stands. The race was carefully planned, and...