The newest in a long line of movies on running -- most of which are mediocre and some great -- is a must-see for runners.
"Four Minutes" is an ESPN2 original movie about Roger Bannister -- the British medical student who ran the first sub-4-minute mile in history 51 years ago. The movie airs Thursday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 and ESPN Classic (Comcast channels 41 and 65).
The film, like all good running movies, is about much more than running, though I think runners will be more apt to switch from the National League baseball playoffs, "Survivor: Guatemala" or the North Carolina State-Georgia Tech football game to watch it.
Besides Bannister's effort to break 4 minutes, the movie details his commitment to his medical studies, how a young woman broke his heart and how another replaced her, his stubborn individualism, his resistance to coaching and his deep disappointment with finishing fourth in the mile at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki.
"Four Minutes" stars young British actor Jamie Maclachan and the legendary Christopher Plummer, of "Sound of Music" fame, who shines as the character Archie Mason, a former running great who is Bannister's wheelchair-bound coach.
The movie opens with Bannister's father telling him of the two feats that man, particularly for the war-weary English following World War II, most desired to accomplish at the time: climbing to the summit of Mount Everest and breaking the 4-minute barrier for the mile.
His father talks about what made the mile so intriguing. Simply, it was its symmetry. Four laps, 4 minutes. Back then, some thought that breaking the 4-minute barrier was physically impossible, perhaps fatal to those who tried.
The world record for the mile had been stuck on 4:01.6 since 1945. Breaking the 4-minute barrier for the first time, it would turn out, put a runner in the his-tory books with just that one accomplishment, eclipsing many who have won Olympic gold medals and set world records.
Take time to watch Thursday night or look for rebroadcasts of the movie because "Four Minutes," despite being made-for-TV, ranks up there with several other excellent running movies and has that same British aura of the Academy Award-winning "Chariots of Fire" (1981).
By the way, other really good running movies include the third of three movies on 1970s runner Steve Prefontaine "Without Limits" (1998), the film starring 10,000-meter gold medalist Haile Gebrselassie of Ethopia depiciting himself in "Endurance" (1999), and the movie on Sioux runner and Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills "Running Brave" (1983), the latter being perhaps the pinnacle of Robby Benson's acting career.
TOP TRI FINISHERS
Three local male triathletes won top honors at Set-Up, Inc.'s Palmetto State Half Ironman in Greenwood on Sunday. The triathlon featured a 1.2-mile swim, a 56.5-mile bike and a 13.1-mile run.
Dawson Cherry, 41, of Mount Pleasant, won first-place masters (40-up) took sixth overall with a finish of 4 hours, 38 minutes, 53 seconds. Gregg Cromer, 36, of Summerville, took first in the highly competitive 35-39 age group and eighth overall with a 4:45:12. And Richard Weatherford, 64, of Folly Beach, won his age group of 60-64 with a 6:11:30.
The last of 11 triathlons in Set-Up's, Inc.'s Palmetto State Triathlon Series will be held at Hickory Knob State Park on Oct. 15. Currently, Jenny Leiser, 25, and Tracy Mckee, 33, both of Charleston, are in the top three of point standings for winning the series for females.
FREE NUTRITION TALK
At noon today, registered dietician Marti Chitwood will offer a free lecture on nutrition and supplements for peak performance at Viriditas Rejuvenation Center, 360 Concord St., Suite 101 (near the IMAX theater). Chitwood has been working with fitness video star Traci Mathewes, who has been training for this Sunday's Chicago Marathon, on how to support the body through diet and supplements.
Chitwood, who gave a free lecture to the Charleston Running Club, asks that you call 577-2862 to reserve a seat.
Also reserve a spot for the latest of Charleston Bicycle Co.'s bike maintenance classes, which will be 6:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 19. The class will focus on commuting, roadside repairs and the equipment needed for commuting and repairs. The cost is $12. Call 571-1211 for more information.
SATURDAY -- Inaugural Running the Creek 5k. 9 a.m. Goose Creek Municipal Center. www.goosecreekrotary.org.
OCT. 15 -- Inaugural Make-A-Wish 5k. 8 a.m. Folly Beach. www.actioncarolina.com.
OCT. 22 -- 12th Charleston Race for the Cure. 8:30 a.m. Daniel Island. www.komenlowcountry.org.
The 13th Isle of Palms Connector Run for the Child 10k and 5k was held Saturday. 450 participated in the 10k and 395 participated in the 5k. See www.rmssports.com for complete results.
10K OVERALL: Male -- Hudson Belk 35:55, Andrew Morgan 36:57, Eric Ruckel 37:04. Female -- Anne Wyman Cipolla 38:01, Heather Nichols 41:01, Stephanie Lundeby 41:54. MASTERS: Male -- Mark Friedrich 37:42. Female -- Cheryl Thigpen 44:21. GRANDMASTERS: Male -- Dan Clapper 41:28. Female -- Nitsa Calas 51:20.
5K OVERALL: Male -- Irv Batten 16:14, Mike Aiken 16:41, Marc Embler 17:55. Female -- Emily Johnson 19:43, Jane Bouch 21:16, Kristen Champion 21:16. MASTERS: Male -- Richard Stephens 18:21. Female -- Beth Cavanaugh 23:05. GRANDMASTERS: Male -- Joe Dipiro 20:41. Female -- Nancy Curry 25:33.