As Olympic fever grips the world (this blogger excepted–more on that later) our attention turns to the high-level sport that has united humanity in friendly competition for over 100 years. One story you may not be aware of is that of Tom Longboat, a native Canadian marathon runner considered to be among the top in his sport back in the early 20th century.
Longboat’s story is one of hardship, endurance and discrimination, yet he still managed to become a celebrity in his sport (and one of the first native Canadian celebrities of any kind). After winning the Boston Marathon in 1907, his career came to a climax at the London Olympics of 1908, where he was favorited to win the marathon. Twenty miles into the race, however, Longboat collapsed and was unable to finish.
While Longboat would later beat his London opponents at a subsequent event, he would never fully recover from the blow of failing to complete the marathon on that hot July day. Read more of Longboat’s fascinating story here.