The First Four Minutes Summary

The First Four Minutes is more than just a story about a sporting feat. It is also a story about determination, perseverance, and overcoming seemingly impossible odds. Bannister’s memoir is an inspiration to us all, and it is a must-read for anyone who has ever dreamed of achieving something great. Read More 1st Year English Summaries.

The First Four Minutes Summary

Roger Bannister images

Dr. Roger Bannister was the first man to run the race of one mile in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. The present prose piece, “The First Four Minutes” is a revelation of the stress and strain. Dr. Bannister underwent in achieving this record. He says that failure is as exciting to watch as success. This is possible only when the player exhibits his sport genuinely and completely. Here, he says that there was no force from anyone to make him participate in that four minutes running. The decision was entirely his own.

During the first lap of the race, Bannister looked at the flag as he lined up for the start. The flag swayed gently as the sails moved gently in Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan. He felt complete silence on the ground. When the gun fired for the second time, Brasher went into the lead and he slipped in behind him.

It seemed his legs lost control of himself. He understood that he was going very slow. He himself shouted ‘Faster’. His worry increased when he heard the first lap time, 57.5 seconds. In that excitement his knowledge of pace had deserted him. At one and a half laps, he was still worrying about the pace. Then, a voice shouting ‘Relax’ penetrated into him. Afterwards, he learnt that it was his coach Stampfl’s voice. He released, there was no strain.

He barely noticed that half mile passed in 1 minute 58 seconds. Chataway went into the lead, at three quarters of a mile the effort was still barely perceptible. The time was 3 minutes 0-7 seconds. He had a moment of mixed joy and anguish, when his mind took over. It raced well ahead of his body.

It drew his body compellingly forward. He felt that the moment of life time had come. The encouragement of the faithful oxford crowd gave him greater strength. There were only 50 yards more. His body exhausted all its energy. But, his will power moved him forward. At this crucial moment, his legs carried him over the last few yards. Here, we can understand the greatness of will power.

The last few seconds seemed never ending. The faint line of the finishing tape stood ahead as a heaven of peace. The arms of the world were waiting to receive him. Then, he leapt at the tape like a man taking his last spring to save himself from the chasm that threatens to engulf him. His effort was over. He collapsed unconscious. It was then that real pain overtook him. The announcement came.

He grabbed Brasher and Chataway and seampered round the track in a burst of spontaneous joy. They had done it in their first attempt of the year. In the wonderful joy he forgot his pain. He felt free of the burden of atheletic ambition, that he had been carrying for years. No words could be invented for his supreme happiness. If eclipsed all other feelings. Thus, with all his strength he could succeed to run the race of one mile in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds.


Roger Bannister reflects on his achievement of breaking the four-minute mile barrier. He emphasizes the importance of determination, perseverance, and teamwork. He also expresses his hope that his achievement will inspire others to dream big and achieve their goals. Bannister’s memoir is a timeless story that continues to inspire people around the world.