On Meeting Sir Roger Bannister
I had a moment with Roger Bannister most runners would do just about anything for, I had 30 minutes with Sir Roger Bannister in his home. While I will be very protective about sharing any private details, I do want to share what an awe inspiring experience it was.
I had travelled up to Oxford to visit family. My dad’s baby sister and her family live there and having never seen their house before it seemed like a perfect thing to do with the break in my schedule while racing over in Europe.
Oxford is one of those cities that you immediately fall in love with when you arrive. It is the the blend of old and new (new being over 100 years old!). There is so much history and charm alive in the city, from the colleges that make up Oxford, to the gardens, plus all the sports fields that each college has, and of course the famous track where Dr. Bannister first broke the 4 minute barrier for the mile.
I had been on a bicycle tour of the city with my uncle when he suggested that we drop by and see if Dr. Bannister was home. I have no pictures, no proof, that I was I sat down with him, but asking for that seemed far too intrusive. We had after all dropped in on him and his wife unannounced.
The Man Behind the First Sub-4 Minute Mile
Sir Roger Bannister is so much more than a runner. We talked very briefly about his running. I learned about his life as a physician, we talked about his children and their various talents, we spoke of athletics, but not for elites, for everyone else. He asked about my family, about sport in Canada, about the structure of the club system in Canada. We spoke about history, something both he and his wife are passionate about.
He is kind. He is humble. He is perspective. I did not want to pry into his life after he had been so generous to allow me into his home. In that short 30 minutes I was so inspired by his greatness. An Oxford graduate, from Pembroke College, a physician, a humanitarian, and, of course, a runner.
I will forever remember my introduction to Roger Bannister. I will forever remember to be a gracious winner, whether running or whatever success I shall hopefully see in life.
I will remember to be kind and generous; you always have something to share with others, no matter how small or large that might help to make their day brighter.
Always listen, because it is the small things that are sometimes most memorable.
And I will always remember that I am not defined by my successes or failures, as a runner or otherwise, and that I am not defined as solely a runner. I am so much more. My running makes up a part of who I am, but it’s not all of me. Sir Roger Bannister, while one of the most famous runners, is so much more. A doctor, a scholar, a father, a grandfather, a husband, a humanitarian, a simple soul who appreciates the small things that make up our daily lives.