Monday, October 15, 2007

The Greatest Race Ever

As some people tell it, the greatest marathon ever was run on July 23, 1908. In that race, an unheralded American ran from Windsor Castle to the Olympic Stadium at Shepherd's Bush, London faster than all but one other runner. The runner who arrived at the stadium first, collapsed on the track several times, and was eventually assisted across the finish line by race officials. This Italian, named Dorando Pietri, was helped in order to prevent the American Olympic team from gathering another gold medal. The effort ensured Pietri's fate. Had he managed to get to his feet under his own power (most authorities doubt this would have been possible), he might have gotten there ahead of the American. Instead, two hours after being declared the winner, officials disqualified Pietri for receiving aid, and the American, Johnny Hayes was declared the winner.
Hayes' daughter, Doris Hayes Hale was a long-time friend of the Shore Athletic Club. Mrs. Hale gave her collection of her father's memorabilia to the Shore A.C. in her will. One of the real treasures from the collection, her father's Olympic gold medal is currently on display in New York. The National Jewelry Insitute has put together a exhibition of Olympic gold medals and other athlete memorabilia, which is on display at the Forbes Gallery through late December. Hayes' medal is the oldest in the exhibit.
We believe this is the first time the medal has been displayed to the general public. Hayes' medal has been shown occasionally to school children through the years. Next month represents the centennial of Hayes first victory in a major marathon, the Mercury A.C. Marathon. It was a race designated as 25 miles, and became the Yonkers Marathon. The Yonkers Marathon served for many years as the marathon national championship race, it also served as an Olympic selection race several times. Hayes' Olympic Marathon victory was the first race run at the now standard distance of 26 miles, 385 yards (42.195 km), and in an odd coincidence, Hayes wore number 26 in the race.
We hope that many club members and others will take advantage of the opportunity to visit this remarkable exhibit.

Labels: ,