(Now available in paperback)
A stirring account of the race to break sport's epic barrier—the 4-minute mile—considered the 20th century's greatest sporting achievement.
“A 50-year-old racing story of shimmering hope and impossible odds…Quaint in the way great myths are quaint: simply structured, resonant with implication, ageless, universal.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
Description: There was a
time when running the mile in four minutes was believed to
be entirely beyond the limits of human foot speed. And in
all of sport it was the elusive holy grail. In 1952, after
suffering defeat at the Helsinki Olympics, three
world-class runners set out individually to break this
formidable barrier. Roger Bannister was a young English
medical student who epitomized the ideal of the
driven not just by winning but by the nobility of the
pursuit. John Landy was the privileged son of a genteel
Australian family, who as a boy preferred butterfly
collecting to running but who trained relentlessly in an
almost spiritual attempt to shape his mind and body to this
singular task. Then there was Wes Santee, the swaggering
American, a Kansas farm boy who was a natural athlete and
who believed he was just plain better than everybody else.
Santee was the first to throw down the gauntlet in what would become a three-way race of body, heart, and soul. Each young man endured thousands of hours of training, bore the weight of his nation's expectations on his shoulders, and still dared to push his very limits. Their collective quest captivated the world and stole headlines from the Korean War, the atomic race, and such legendary figures as Edmund Hillary, Willie Mays, Native Dancer, and Ben Hogan. Who would be the first to achieve the unachievable? And who among them would be the best when they went head to head? In the answer came the perfect mile.
In the tradition of Seabiscuit and Chariots of Fire, a breathtaking story of unlikely heroes that leaves us with a lasting portrait of the twilight years of the golden age of sport.