Though you may know who broke the 4-minute mile barrier that should not deter you from reading this book. The Perfect Mile details three runners in hopes of being the first to accomplish the feat that was once thought to be humanly impossible. Neither of them allowed their futures to be shaped by a mutually, unforgettable disappointment, the 1952 Olympic Games. With different methods and reasons, Australia’s John Landy, England’s Roger Bannister, and the United States’ Wes Santee decided to test the limits of human endurance. It’s learning about their trials and tribulations that make for an interesting story. If you think the climax is when the barrier is broken, you’re in for a surprise. Wait until you read about the Mile of the Century.
Running gave me discipline and self-expression. It has all the disappointments, frustrations, lack of success, and unexpected success, which all reproduce themselves in the bigger play of life. It teaches you the ability to present under pressure. It teaches you the importance of being enthusiastic, dedicated, and focused.” – John Landy
Bascomb takes you along for a ride that captures the essence of this historic event while providing you with plenty of backstory, enabling you to pick a favorite. Runners will enjoy encounters with Pavvo Nurmi, Percy Cerutty, and Emil Zátopek. However, being a runner is not a requirement to enjoy Bascomb’s superb storytelling. He intertwines moments in history such as the first successful ascent of Mt. Everest and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II to add to a well-crafted piece. I recommend this book to anyone that can appreciate a story that has suspense, competitive spirit, and determination. Another good book in addition to The Perfect Mile is Once a Runner by John L. Parker. One may notice characteristics from the trio in the fictional character Quenton Cassidy, who is a miler also on a quest run a sub 4-minute mile.
I found it to be ironic that while reading the book, I stumbled upon the Bring Back the Mile Anniversary Contest. The book was a good read for me, but Bring Back the Mile doesn’t want the love of the Mile to stop there. Launched on January 18, 2012, their mission is to elevate and celebrate one of the most iconic events in sport, the Mile, and also to replace the misfit 1600 meters at the U.S. high school level, a distance that falls nine meters short of prep athletes’ dreams. The deadline to submit an entry into the contest is Sunday, January 20, 2013, at 2:31 PM (EST).
”Hard work pays off. You have to be just as disciplined to run a business as you do to train for an athletic event. You have to eat right. Still have to get up early and work more than others. Great athletes usually spend extra time in the weight room, shoot extra baskets, run extra sprints, whatever. And that whole thing transfers into larger life.” – Wes Santee
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