SI Vault
T.R. Healy
January 12, 1987
Sir Roger Bannister testified to a unique feature of running when he remarked in his book The Four-Minute Mile, "I sometimes think that running has given me a glimpse of the greatest freedom a man can ever know, because it results in the simultaneous liberation of both body and mind."
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January 12, 1987

Prison Inmates Run, But Not Quite To Daylight

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Soon I had passed all of the inmates but one—a short, supple Indian runner who wore his long hair in braids. I stalked him for several meters before passing him as we moved into the last lap. The harder I ran, the more my edginess seemed to dissipate. I was able to ignore the wall and the guards in the gun towers, and instead focus my attention on finishing the race. But then, with a quarter of a mile remaining, I heard footsteps behind me. Suddenly, the Indian inmate surged past me, his long braids twisting across his back.

I ran after him but he continued to move ahead. He was running as hard as I had ever seen anyone run, his arms churning and his head tossing from side to side. Even if I had just begun to run at that instant, I doubt if I could have caught him. Now he, too, was able to ignore the immense wall that surrounded him day and night. Running for him, as perhaps for all runners, was not drudgery but freedom.

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