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Aug. 17, 2009
Aug. 17, 2009

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Aug. 17, 2009

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This is an article from the Aug. 17, 2009 issue

EXCERPT | Aug.16, 1954

MiracleMilers

The race betweenthe world's first four-minute men

Three monthsafter breaking the barrier Roger Bannister battled the man who had sincelowered his record. Paul O'Neil wrote in SI's debut issue.

The art ofrunning the mile consists, in essence, of reaching the threshold ofunconsciousness at the instant of breasting the tape. It is not an easyprocess, for the body rebels against such agonizing usage and must bedisciplined by the spirit and the mind. It is infinitely more difficult in theamphitheater of competition, for then the runner must remain alert and cunningdespite the fogs of fatigue and pain; his instinctive calculation of pace mustencompass maneuvers for position, and he must harbor strength to answer themoves of other men before expending his last reserves. Few events in sportoffer so ultimate a test, and the world of track has never seen anything equalto the "Mile of the Century," which England's Dr. Roger GilbertBannister—the tall, pale-skinned explorer of human exhaustion who first crashedthe four-minute barrier—won last Saturday from Australia's world-record holder,John Michael Landy.

It was the mostwidely heralded and universally contemplated footrace of all time. Thirty-twothousand people jostled and screamed while it was run in Vancouver's new EmpireStadium, millions followed it by television. Despite the necessity of jockeyingon the early turns and of moving up in a field of six other good men, Bannisterran a blazing 3:58.8 and Landy 3:59.6. Landy's world record of 3:58 stillstood, but on the battlefield Landy was beaten, man to man, and Roger Bannisterreigned again as the giant of modern track.

Bannister retiredfrom running that December to study medicine. He was named SI's 1954 Sportsmanof the Year, then later became a neurologist.

Cover Gallery
This Week in SI

1967

Carl Yastrzemskiwas en route to winning the Triple Crown and leading the reformed Red Sox (theplayers used to party too much, they admitted) to their first pennant since1946.

1979

John Jefferson,the NFL's leader in TD catches as a Chargers rookie in '78, looked forward toanother big season after San Diego drafted touted tight end Kellen Winslow.

1991

John Daly was anunknown rookie until he won the PGA by walloping drives so prodigious they leftseasoned pros in awe. "This is like a miracle," said Daly, 25.

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Editor'sChoice

POSTCARDS FROMCAMP

SI's Peter Kingchecks in with the latest tidbits from Vikings camp in Mankato, Minn.:

Percy Harvin(left) is making an immediate impact. Drafted with the 22nd pick in the firstround last April, Harvin is being run ragged by coach Brad Childress, offensivecoordinator Darrell Bevell and receivers coach George Stewart. They're workinghim hard. "We want to overload him now and teach him as much as wecan," Bevell said. "When the season starts, we don't want his headswimming with everything. We just want him to play."

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PETER KING'S
Monday Morning Quarterback
Albert Haynesworth looks happy after his first day in Redskins camp

JOHN P.LOPEZ'S
Inside the NFL
Are Tony Romo and the Cowboys Super Bowl--worthy?

SI.COM'S
25 Things We Miss in Football
Lester Hayes and the glory days on the gridiron

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PHOTOPhotograph by MARK KAUFFMANSIR ROGER Bannister, who was later knighted for his achievements in medicine and in sport, sprinted past Landy on the final lap.PHOTOART SHAY (YASTRZEMSKI)PHOTOHANK DELESPINASSE STUDIOS (JEFFERSON)PHOTOJACQUELINE DUVOISIN (DALY)PHOTOTOM DAHLIN (HARVIN)PHOTOJOHN BIEVER (MORNEAU)PHOTOALBERTO E. RODRIGUEZ/GETTY IMAGES (O'NEAL)PHOTOBARRY GOSSAGE/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (MOORE)PHOTOMICKEY PFLEGER (HAYES)PHOTOGREG NELSON (ROMO)PHOTOSIMON BRUTY (HAYNESWORTH)PHOTO