It was a typical British afternoon in early May: wet, cool and blustery. Not exactly the ideal conditions for running four laps around a track faster than many thought humanly possible.
A lanky Oxford medical student named Roger Bannister looked up at the white-and-red English flag whipping in the wind atop a nearby church and figured he would have to call off the record attempt.
But then, shortly after 6 p.m. on May 6, 1954, the wind subsided. Bannister glanced up again and saw the flag fluttering oh-so gently. The race was on.
With two friends acting as pacemakers, Bannister churned around the cinder track four times. His long arms and legs pumping, his lungs...