My friend Jim Ryun is one of the all-time great track and field distance runners. He was the first high school athlete to run a mile in under four minutes. He was the last American to hold the world record for that distance. He still holds the American junior record times (ages 19 and under) for three distances, including the mile—records he set 50 years ago.
As if all that weren’t enough, Jim also served his country honorably as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Kansas from 1996 to 2007.Jim also represented the U.S. in three Olympic games, winning a silver medal in the 1,500 meters (a distance known as the metric mile) in the 1968 games in Mexico City.
So, in a lifetime of career and personal highlights, on the track and in the Congress, what does Jim point to as the greatest moment of his life? Likely not what you’d expect. He identifies that moment as coming when he experienced probably the most spectacular failure of his running career.