The Perfect Mile

by | Mar 15, 2023 | Courage, Faithfulness, race

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV)

A universe opens to me when I sit down with a good book. I especially like reading something about which I know little or nothing. A recent example was a book called The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb. I learned that during the early 1950s, two of the world’s top middle-distance runners, Roger Bannister of Great Britain and John Landy of Australia, were chasing the same elusive goal: breaking the four-minute mile. As the world watched and waited, both runners were tantalizingly close to this feat which had once been deemed impossible for a human to achieve.

It was the British medical student, Roger Bannister, who finally achieved this remarkable feat on May 6, 1954, running the race in 3:59.4 minutes. Seven weeks later, Landy broke that record, running it in 3:57.9 minutes.

As a medical student, Bannister’s world revolved around nothing other than studies and running. He spent years in relentless training that was so gruelling that he often considered giving up. But competitive racing is a combination of both individual effort and teamwork. He relied on his coach for technical assistance and support, and on other runners, who served as invaluable pacesetters to gauge when he needed to make the final kick into the home stretch. During Bannister’s record-setting race, it was two of his own teammates who sacrificed their own race to set the pace that would allow him to squeeze out his final needed seconds and strides. These pacesetters put their own egos and aspirations aside as they helped Bannister reach his highest potential.

There are parallels and lessons galore to be drawn between the world of the runner and our life of faith. The Christian life may at times seem to be a long, gruelling race, coming with pain and sacrifice. Yet the final prize for having lived a life pleasing to God is worth it all.

Sometimes, we are the pacesetters as we help and encourage our fellow believers along the way. Other times, we are the ones in need of that bit of assistance. We have pastors and teachers who serve as coaches as they teach and train us in godly ways. We, in turn, may be the ones who train our own children and others in the faith. Whatever our role, may we be able to say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” (2 Timothy 4:7 NLT)

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, our life’s race is often gruelling and monotonous, but we desire to finish the course well. Give us strength and courage to be faithful to the end. Amen.

Copyright © 2023, by Gail Lundquist <>, first published on the PresbyCan Daily Devotional  
Beaverton, Oregon, USA

Used with the permission of PresbyCan and author.


The Perfect Mile