June 15, 2004

Author, runner to detail four-minute mile quest

Book cover: The Perfect Mile

In a time before men walked on the moon, running a mile in fewer than four minutes seemed nearly as impossible. But in the early 1950s, three athletes, American Wes Santee, Australian John Landy and Englishman Roger Bannister, were locked in a race to achieve that feat.

Author Neal Bascomb chronicles the quest of the three runners to break the four-minute mile barrier in his book The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It. Bascomb and track legend Santee will team up for a special presentation on the book at California State University, Sacramento from 4 to 6 p.m., Thursday, July 15 in the University Library Gallery. The talk is sponsored by the Hornet Bookstore.

Sports Illustrated named Bannister’s barrier-breaking run, a 3:59.4 mile on May 6, 1954, as “the twentieth century’s greatest sporting achievement.” Bascomb’s book tells story behind the triumph, delving into the lives of Santee, Landy and Bannister to reveal the competitive zeal that drove the trio in their pursuit of athletic excellence. Santee left behind an abusive childhood on a Kansas farm to champion his country on the track. Landy shrugged off a life of privilege for the pain of training. Amateur Bannister ran between medical school classes.

Bascomb had full access to the athletes, and their support, for his book. Critics have called The Perfect Mile the most complete account of the race for the four-minute mile to date.

For more information, call (916) 278-6446. For media assistance, contact CSUS public affairs at (916) 278-6156.


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