Melissa Rose Bernardo
April 16, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Perfect Mile

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Neal Bascomb
genre
Nonfiction

We gave it an A-

If the word Fartlek sends you into fits of giggles, this is not the book for you. The Perfect Mile was a four-minute mile — the time three world-class runners were chasing back in 1952: British med student Roger Bannister; Aussie John Landy, a former footballer with an avid interest in butterflies; and University of Kansas student Wes Santee. Even if you know the outcome, Bascomb’s re-creation of events is captivating. Each attempt at the sub-four is more emotional than the last. Every 4:02 — or, worse, 4:00.6 — wounds. And though the record may be a distant memory (in 1999, Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj ran 3:43.13), there’s much joy and inspiration to be found here.

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