Running History Roger Bannister Breaks the 4 Minute Mile Part 2

About the history of Roger Bannister breaking the four minute mile in his own words.


Roger Bannister Breaks 4-Minute Mile (1954)

As I Saw It

(From First Four Minutes by Roger Bannister, The Sportsmans Book Club, London, 1956.) "I had a moment of mixed joy and anguish, when my mind took over. It raced well ahead of my body and drew my body compellingly forward. I felt that the moment of a lifetime had come. There was no pain, only a great unity of movement and aim. The world seemed to stand still, or did not exist. The only reality was the next 200 yards of track under my feet. The tape meant finality--extinction perhaps. I felt at that moment that it was my chance to do one thing supremely well. . .

"With five yards to go, the tape seemed almost to recede. Would I ever reach it? Those last few seconds seemed never-ending. . . .I leapt at the tape like a man taking his last spring to save himself from the chasm that threatens to engulf him. . . . .It was only then that real pain overtook me. . . .

"I knew that I had done it before I even heard the time. . . .I grabbed Brasher and Chataway, and together we scampered round the track in a burst of spontaneous joy. We had done it--the three of us! We shared a place where no man had yet ventured--secure for all time, however fast men might run miles in future. . . .

"I felt suddenly and gloriously free of the burden of athletic ambition that I had been carrying for years. No words could be invented for such supreme happiness, eclipsing all other feelings. I thought at that moment I could never again reach such a climax of single-mindedness. I felt bewildered and overpowered. . . .

"I sometimes think that running has given me a glimpse of the greatest freedom a man can ever know, because it results in the simultaneous liberation of both body and mind. . . .The runner does not know how or why he runs. He only knows that he must run. . . .We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves."

In December, 1954, at the height of his fame, Roger Bannister brought his athletic career to a close in order to devote his time to medicine.

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