Tuesday, May 6, 2014

. . . Sixty Years Ago Today

It was the sixth day of May, 1954.  The race was a one-mile run.  The announcer proclaimed, "The time was three..." and the rest of his announcement was drowned out by the roar of the crowd.  The time was three minutes, fifty-nine point four seconds.  Roger Bannister had just become the first person to officially run a mile in under four minutes.*

As a young man, I had often heard of "the four minute barrier."  Bannister clearly proved that not only records, but barriers are to be broken.  Sport has moved on.  No one runs miles these days; they run "kays."  I have no idea what the current record is for the so-called "metric mile."**  Nor do I know who holds that record, but Roger Bannister is a name that will live in my mind so long as my mind functions.

Bannister himself, by his own word, does not consider this accomplishment to be his greatest achievement.  He is a medical doctor by profession, and he counts his research into the responses of the human nervous system to be his highest work.

 Dr. Bannister still lives in his native England.  Sir Roger is 85 years of age.  He has been diagnosed with Parkinson's.

*Bannister's record held only 46 days.  It was broken by John Landy.  However in the 1954 Commonwealth games, Landy and Bannister went up against each other in the mile.  Bannister took the gold in 3:58.8, Landy the silver in 3:59.6.  And that was Sir Roger's proudest sports moment.

**Actually, a "metric mile" would approximate 1.6k, and I am not sure that that is even an "event" in track and field.  Perhaps they run 1.5k.  I have not much followed the sport since everything changed.

Joke:  Did you hear the one about the marathon runner who told the proud 5k runner, "Your 5k is my cool-down."?

6 comments:

Secondary Roads said...

When I ran track (that was in high school), we measured distances in yards. My 440 yard dash is now a 400 meter sprint. The 880 is 800 meters. No more sprints for me, I'm fortunate to be able to amble.

Shelly said...

When I was a kid, I remember reading an old Weekly Reader story about him breaking the record. I am happy to know he is still living. Great event to remember today~

Sharkbytes said...

I too remember when it happened. I was never much of a runner- short legs. Although I was on the team that held the school record for the 880 relay, briefly.

vanilla said...

Chuck, I fully understand the "ambling" thing. Yet I am truly thankful that I am still able to perambulate, albeit slowly and with discomfort.

Shelly, most people who remember Bannister, myself included, think of his athletic prowess, richly deserved recognition. But that he was a brilliant researcher in the field of medicine as well puts him in a "league of his own."

Sharkey, I am no runner at all-- never was. Came in next-to-last in the only race I ever ran, and that a mere 100 yards. Whole other story.

KC Bob said...

Famous miler Jim Ryun was once the youth pastor at our church. Seeing his over-the-top discipline gave me a peak into the life of a world class runner and athlete.

A few years back ESPN made a pretty good movie about Roger Bannister. Here is a link to it: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0457350/

vanilla said...

KC Bob, wow you are acquainted with the man who took the sub-four minute mile to a new level! When I read your comment I thought of Philippians 3:14, for to achieve the mark for the prize of the high calling requires the sort of discipline you observe in your friend.
Thanks for the link.