On May 29, 1953 Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay crested Mount Everest’s 29,035 peak, becoming the first men to do so. Nearly a year later, Englishman Roger Bannister ran the first sub-four-minute mile (May 6, 1954). In this paper we explore the intertextuality of the public discourses of Hillary and Bannister, focusing on the themes highlighted by the media to give their accomplishments particular cultural meanings within contemporary accounts. In their stories, both individually and in conversation with one another, can be seen the tensions, contradictions, and cultural work that heroic feats accomplish on behalf of nationalistic impulses. Everest and the four-minute mile are actually two of a triad of potent texts—the coronation of Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953, is the third—that are linked together intertextually through synchronicity, media narratives, and cultural imperatives. This confluence of events helped to define the culturally momentous impact of Hillary’s and Bannister’s accomplishments.

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