The mile was once the Holy Grail of sports performances. In the first half of the 20th Century, many thought that running a mile in under four minutes was impossible. During this golden age of sports—without high tech sports drinks, aerodynamic running suits and one-ounce track spikes—three men set out to do it anyway.
In The Perfect Mile, author Neal Bascomb follows the individual quests of these three men—Roger Bannister, John Landy and Wes Santee. All were world-class runners, but they all came from different backgrounds.
Bannister, a true amateur, found time to run between classes and rounds during medical school in England. Landy was a wealthy, privileged Australian who trained for hours every day. Then there was Santee, a brash American farm boy who thought he was better than everyone he went up against.
These three men became the unlikely heroes who stopped the world for four minutes in 1952. Their training, mental approach and thoughts leading up to the race are all documented in The Perfect Mile, which reveals each man’s secrets to running the mile faster than anyone else.
STACK’s Take: What is it about books on running that makes you want to get up and start training for a race? While running four-minute miles is unattainable for most, The Perfect Mile can inspire even the slowest person to pick up the tempo and knock some time off his personal best. It’s a simple read that’s great for bus rides during the indoor and outdoor track seasons.