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Bannister: Everest on the Track is a must-watch for runners

The documentary follows all of the major players who were involved in Roger Bannister's sub-four-minute mile

Tired of watching the same few shows on Netflix and looking to switch things up with something new? Bannister: Everest on the Track is a documentary that will entertain and inspire runners. The film follows Sir Roger Bannister‘s running career and his quest to become the first sub-four-minute miler in history. Racers, spectators and even Bannister himself are interviewed to tell the story of how the four-minute barrier was finally broken in 1954.

Bannister’s life

The documentary starts off during World War II, when Bannister was growing up in Bath, U.K., where his family moved after relocating from London at the start of the war. He describes his life in Bath, walking and sometimes running two to three miles across the city to get to school, and he eventually talks of his time at university, where was considered to be an average runner.

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Eventually, of course, he improved, and soon enough he was Britain’s best miler, and he competed at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki. His goal was a gold medal, but he finished fourth in the 1,500m. Had he won, he says he would have retired from running before ever setting his focus on breaking the four-minute barrier.

Roger Bannister, left, and one of his pacemakers, Christopher Chataway, after Bannister’s 3:59.4 mile. (AP Photo, File)

Three-man race

Bannister was not alone in the race to run a sub-four-minute mile. Two other runners, Australian John Landy (who is interviewed in the film) and Wes Santee of the U.S., were inching closer and closer to the barrier. Bannister watched closely as these two men chipped away at their personal bests, and in the spring of 1954, he knew he had to go for the record before one of them went sub-four.

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Bannister and his pacers decided on May 6, 1954 for his attempt, because they knew if they waited any longer, Landy—who was headed to Europe to break the barrier—would likely beat him to it. Amazingly, Bannister went to work the morning of the race. As he made his way to the track later in the day, the weather didn’t look promising, and he thought about calling the attempt off, but he was convinced to make the push by a friend.

“If you don’t take this chance today, then you may never get another chance,” his friend told him. So he ran, and he produced the first sub-four-minute mile in history, running 3:59.4. Viewers know how the race turned out, but this documentary provides suspense all the same. Footage of the race is punctuated by interviews with Bannister, his pacers, other racers and spectators present that day, all of whom tell the story of what they saw and how the run unfolded. 

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This is a film that every runner should watch. It will not only keep you busy and get you out of your current Netflix slump, but it will also inspire you to push a little harder on your next run, even when you feel like you don’t have anything more to give. To watch the film, visit the documentary website.