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15 May, 2016

RUNS TO MARK "TOM LONGBOAT DAY" IN CANADA, JUNE 4

It is not likely that many of my readers will know that Saturday, June 4, is "Tom Longboat Day" in Canada.  Who was Tom Longboat, you might well ask?

Tom Longboad and his trophies
Longboat was a world-champion, long-distance runner who, in 1907, won the Boston Marathon in a record time of 2:24:24 and went on to win many other races and claimed the title of Professional Champion of the World in 1909. He was the first person of First Nation descent and only one of two to ever win the Boston Marathon.

His feats were on a par with those of the legendary American Indian Olympic champion Jim Thorpe.

Born on Six Nations Reserve, east of Brantford, in 1887 with his First Nation's name Kakwe.ik (Everything) and a Residential School survivor, Tom Longboat would go on to become a Canadian Army dispatch runner in France during World War I.
He was inducted into both Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1955 the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 1966 and the Indian Hall of Fame.  Each year, the Toronto Island 10K race commemorates his memory and First Nations' athletes from each province, both male and female are selected for the Longboat Award.

By no coincidence, the 28th Annual Huron Shores Run is also scheduled for June 4 this year and to commemorate "Tom Longboat Day", the event will begin with the dancers and drummers from nearby Saugeen First Nation in prayer at the Coliseum in Southampton.  They will then lead the runners and walkers down High Street to the starting line, both at 7:30 and and 8:30 a.m.  (I'm going to try to get up early enough that morning to take some photos, but I won't be wearing running shoes -- been there and done that!)

The run is for every age and ability -- Kids' Fun Run, 3k, 5k, 10k Runs, Half Marathon Walk and Run. For those who can't run, no problem...They can get their 10,000 steps in by entering the 5k Walk and collecting pledges or by sponsoring someone they know.

Again, this year, the Rotary Run is partnering with the Town of Saugeen Shores that will hold a Health and Wellness Fair at the Coliseum where the awards ceremony and a lunch for participants will also take place following the Run. Commendably, proceeds from the event are shared by the local Saugeen Memorial Hospital Foundation, Rotary projects in the community and the Saugeen Track & Field Club.


Tom Longboat runner athlete marathon Olympian NOTE:  In 1998, as one century was about to end and another begin, Maclean's magazine ran a list of the 100 most important Canadians in history, dividing them into 10 categories, with 10 names in each category. In the Stars category, reserved for the best in celebrity the country has had to offer, the number one spot went to Tom Longboat. And in the list of the top 10 Canadians in history overall, Longboat came in ninth spot, sharing the list with the likes of William Lyon Mackenzie King, Glenn Gould, Nellie McClung and K.C. Irving.  Tom is recognized in numerous books, articles, and web pages. As well, various races, scholarships, clubs and a school have been named in his honor -- even a Canadian commemorative postage stamp.

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