Breaking the 4 Minute Mile
By Bree Bowman
Eagle Scout Speech 6/30/09
For more than 100 years, runners tried to break the 4 minute mile. It was considered the “Holy Grail” of track and field. Many said it couldn’t be done. In fact, doctors wrote articles in medical journals explaining why it was physically impossible for the human body to run a mile in less than 4 minutes. However, in May 1954, a British medical student named Roger Banister ran the mile in 3.59.4.
His amazing accomplishment made headlines around the world. Yet what happened afterwards is even more amazing. The 4 minute mile was broken again the next month. And the again . . . . And then again . . . . It has since been broken more than 700 times, sometimes by several people in the same race. What happened? The runners weren’t training any differently. There were no medical miracles. Red Bull hadn’t been invented yet! So what changed?
For the 1st time, they believed it could be done. Roger Banister had shown them that it could be done. The barriers to the mind had come down. Roger Banister set an example. He was a role model. His leadership was an inspiration. In fact, isn’t that what we have here tonight? A room full of leadership and inspiration?
In the Eagle Scout charge during your Court of Honor, you heard the obligations of an Eagle Scout: To live with Honor, to be Loyal, to be Courageous, to be Cheerful and to help others. To lead by example and be an inspiration. You are all here because you have all broken your own 4 minute miles! Like Roger Banister, you started by believing with all your heart that it was possible. You moved from, “I can do it,” to, “I will do it,” to, “I did it!” Doesn’t it feel great to have the heart of a champion?
So we are gathered here tonight to celebrate your success, but this is not just about the past and what you have done, but about the future and what we all know you will do. You are Eagle Scouts! And not just Eagle Scouts, but the leaders and providers of inspiration for your own generation and for generations to come.