Fifty years ago today - May 6, 1954 - a British runner named Roger Bannister became the first man to officially run a mile under four minutes, a barrier that many had speculated could not be broken. - ESPN
There is some controversy over whether Bannister is truly the first person, but he's certainly the one with the most precise track measurements and witnesses to validate the feat.
The real story is that once the 4-minute mile was broken in the public consciousness by Bannister, it moved the feat into the realm of possibility and all of a sudden a whole slew of world-class runners were also able to run sub-4 minute miles. I'm well aware of the story being a runner and having met Bannister once briefly (I remember being too young to really have any meaningful conversation).
I was thinking about the sub-4 minute mile "limit" the other day when I posted the entry on the Wright Brothers. I read yesterday that Saatchi and Saatchi's CEO Kevin Robert's motto (or maybe it was Saatchi's motto or both) is "Nothing is Impossible".
Roberts says he has always been an optimist. I can't say that optimism is in my genes; I got to be an optimist after a shot at nihilism and then a lot of trial and error.
""Many thought the human body was incapable of running that fast...
It became a symbol of attempting a challenge in the physical world of something hitherto thought impossible," Bannister, now a 75-year-old grandfather, told The Associated Press at his modest Oxford home, minutes from the Iffley Road track where he made history. "I'd like to see it as a metaphor not only for sport, but for life and seeking challenges." - Associated Press
I'm actually writing this post this minute because I didn't feel like blogging whatsoever today. If truth be told I'm in a particular non-optimistic funk. Surely just a passing mood, yes I know. The story itself is beside the point (and I recognize as I observe it as just the Ego chattering away as it is wont to do).
The fog started to lift as I read that today was the anniversary of a barrier that many had speculated could not be crossed. And my "impossibilities" are certainly teeny by comparison. A barrier is seemingly a solid wall in one's mind, but as Bannister proved -- once its shattered in the mind, the door is then held wide open.
Still, Bannister will be acclaimed as the man whose famous run transcended the sport. The lasting fascination, he says, springs from a simple message:
"A man could, with his own two feet, overcome all difficulties to reach a pinnacle upon which he could declare, 'No one has ever done this before.' "Associated Press