History Lesson No. 1

One of the first things we covered in speech/forensics/drama back in highschool was you need to get a hook into your audience as soon as you start. It’s a lot easier to peak someone’s interest and lose than try obtain it as you go. The prime example is screaming out “SEX!” and take it from there. So, with that in mind:

David McCullough.

Hmm, so perhaps not the same effect as crying out intercourse. Hear me out anyway.

McCullough, the crafter of heavy, dense tomes on figures and points in time has always peaked my interests. To be so detailed and knowledgeable on a topic is pretty damn sexy, I have to say. 

That being said, I love the history of running. The evolution of human effort has changed as far as time on a watch is concerned, but the internal component, that mental exertion that running is predominantly made of (so I think) is present within every known entity in the modern athletic era. Except steroids, and blood doping. And…well, uh—that’s for another entry. 

Today’s purpose of entry is not to rehash history; that isn’t my strong point. Not to mention it’s been done before.  The one footnote I’ll bring to the forefront right now is that on this day in 1954, something very cool happened.

 A guy (OK, a brit—so perhaps I should refer to him as a chap) went out and became the first person to ever run the mile in under four minutes.  If you’d like a better understanding of the story, I highly suggest reading the ‘Perfect Mile’, came out a few years ago.  Not only does it recount Roger Banister’s journey towards immortality, but two others delicately interwoven into the quest of breaking the barrier. 

I bring this date up, this story because of that delicate layer underneath. I don’t recall watching ESPN’s ‘Four Minutes’ so I don’t know what is known in the popular conscious, but this is my brief cry out to acknowledge Wes Santee. 

A rural athlete from Kansas, Santee was doing his damndest to break the four minute mile when Banister did it first. He was a fantastic runner in his own right.

The notion of bureaucracy within the simple act of running seems silly, especially when presented with such daily in our own professional spheres. But to not be allowed to compete in the Olympics in your greatest event because of capricious decisions from equally absurd decision makers is depressing and sad. 

Wes didn’t get the chance to break the four minute barrier first, overall or in the US. He couldn’t make a living being an athlete back in those days, so the little money he got was held against him and was deemed ineligible by the AAU. 

He died last winter after serving in the Marines, being a normal human. But, in spite of some very crappy instances of unfairness, he won NCAA titles and had a family. 

I’m writing this from the third row of a bus heading to Dayton and don’t know how Wes got past that disappointment. What do you think?