April 19, 1907 -- This was the greatest day in the running history of a future Buffalo resident.
Tom Longboat grew up up the road in Six Nations Reserve, Canada, near Brantford. He had won the Around the Bay race in Hamilton, Ontario, and opted to run in the Boston Marathon. It's fair to say he was a complete unknown in terms of the prerace favorites.
Longboat caught a small break when he was in the lead pack early in the race when a train came along. Most of the field had to wait until the track was cleared before continuing. Longboat went on to win the race in 2 hours, 24 minutes and 24 seconds.
Here's how the Boston Globe described the finish: "Amid the wildest din heard in years, Longboat shot across the line, breaking the tape as the timers stopped their watches, simultaneously with the clicking of a dozen cameras, winner of the greatest of all modern Marathon runs. Arms were stretched out to grasp the winner, but he needed no assistance."
Longboat became world-famous for his running and competed in the Olympics. After he was done running, Longboat moved to Buffalo in the late 1920's and worked in a steel mill. He still has relatives in Western New York. Longboat is considered one of the greatest athletes in Canadian history.
To read a story I wrote about Longboat in 2007, click here.
--- Budd Bailey
taggedHistory | Running