John Landy was born in Australia in 1930.

He was a running phenomenon.

It became obvious to everyone he wasn’t just the best in Australia.

He was the best in the entire world.

By the time he was 22 he was at the peak of his powers.

He’d won everything there was, there was only one thing left to go for.

The thing that obsessed the whole world.

The four-minute mile, no one could break it.

Or maybe John Landy could.

He was the greatest runner of them all.

He was regularly clocking 4 minutes 8 seconds for the mile.

Maybe he was the one.

As an Australian, the whole country was willing him to do it.

On December 13th 1952 he managed 4 minutes 2.1 seconds.

Just two seconds away.

He tried again in March, and managed 4 mins 2.8 secs

Again, just over two seconds away.

He tried again, and managed 4 mins 4.2 secs

He needed to go faster.

He tried again, but this time did it in 4 mins 9 secs.

He was desperate, he felt the pressure to do more, to try more.

He trained even harder and tried again in January.

He got it down to 4 mins 2.4 secs.

Still two seconds too slow.

He put his entire heart and soul into it.

In February he ran 4 mins 5.6 secs.

He wouldn’t give up; that month he ran again: 4 mins 2.6 secs.

Still he couldn’t shave those last two seconds off.

However hard he tried he didn’t seem to be getting any closer.

In March he ran again, 4 mins 5 secs.

He was beyond desperate, that April he ran the fastest he’d ever run: 4 mins 2 secs.

That was it.

He’d given absolutely everything he had and it wasn’t enough.

He didn’t have in him to break four minutes.

He couldn’t find those extra two seconds.

He told the press: “Frankly I think the four-minute mile is beyond my capabilities.

Two seconds may not sound like much, but to me it’s like trying to break through a brick wall.

Someone may achieve the four-minute mile the world is wanting so desperately, but I don’t think I can”.

Then something happened far away in England.

Roger Bannister ran the world’s first sub four-minute mile.

He ran it in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds.

And six weeks later John Landy ran the four-minute mile in 3 mins 57.9 secs.

Four seconds faster than he’d ever managed before.

And two seconds faster than Roger Bannister.

After saying he didn’t have it in him.

What happened?

The truth is, it was about what John Landy believed.

Once someone had done it, it obviously could be done.

And if someone else did it, he must be able to do it as well or better.

John Landy went on to break the four-minute mile three more times.

One of the greatest runners ever.


Like all of us, he was actually competing against his own mind.