IT’S ALWAYS A SAD MOMENT when one of the sport’s greats leaves us, but for me the news of the passing of Roger Bannister (read here) left me with a particularly hollow feeling. He’s my first track memory, although not for the sub-4:00.
My first track memory is of Roger Bannister
I knew there was a sport called track & field from my very earliest days. In the summer we’d have Sunday picnics complete with family track meet, frequently in a deserted old apple orchard with the standard races measured in trees.
My opponent was usually my mother and somehow she nearly always managed to find a way to lose in the last few strides. But she beat me enough to keep it interesting.
My father, on the other hand, was the competitive type and he wasn’t going to lose to a 5-year-old! And he always beat me in the broad jump as well.
But back to Bannister. In the summer of ’54—when I was 7—we were vacationing in British Columbia, a couple of hundred miles from Vancouver, where the Miracle Mile was about to unfold.
In the days leading up to the race, it was a frequent topic of conversation for my parents as we gasped and choked our way along the dirt roads that were standard at the time. And the car didn’t have a radio, so there was lots of conversation.
While the concept of the mile didn’t really resonate with me, I remember asking them why they kept talking about the railing that ran upstairs to my bedroom. I couldn’t quite grasp why somebody would be named after something like that. Not that I’d ever even heard the word “Landy” before.
It was quite a thrill, then, when I got to meet Bannister in person at Montréal, in ’76 when he was a guest at one of our tour luncheons. A most engaging man, with a delightful personality. No Olympic medals, but nonetheless one of the greats.
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THE DIGITAL WORLD, PART 2: Back in the January edition I laid out for you what was happening to T&FN as we segue from ink & paper to a purely electronic product. We hope that the timeliness which this concept allows us to provide to you is proving successful, although we know that some of you prefer to get segments on an ongoing basis, instead preferring to wait until one big chunk.
This issue, the one titled March, is the last that you’re going to see in distinct-page format. As April unfolds you’ll see our revamped website and all the “magazine” copy will be there, mostly hidden behind a paywall that only subscribers can access.
We hope you’ll give it a try and come to embrace it as warmly as you have the paper version for all these years. We know it’s a bit of a jarring change, and we wish we could have continued with the traditional format, but just as has happened at so many other magazines, the economics are just no longer there.
When another Bannister comes along, we hope you read about it first from us.