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For over one hundred years the Holy Grail of athletic competition was to run the mile in less than four minutes. With each failed attempt the possibility of success faded further. In the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and early 50’s science and what passed for sports medicine held that the human body was simply incapable of such unbelievable performances. The conventional wisdom of the day was that the lungs could not process enough oxygen to sustain the effort; they would burst under the strain, as would the heart. The bones would fracture, joints rupture, muscles give out, and ligaments and tendons would tear and fail under such stress. It was a physiological and psychological barrier.

A human being running a mile under four minutes was just not possible. 1

Then it happened. His vocation had taken him to one of the most prestigious schools of the day, Oxford in England where he was a medical student. On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister ran a mile in 3 minutes, and 59.4 seconds. Bannister believed. The world did not. His friends offered little support. That day Bannister broke not only the physical four-minute-mile barrier but the...

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