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Johnny Kelley (1907-2004)
Caffery, a Canadian, Wins the Marathon Race; Time for 25 Miles is 2h 39m 44 2-5s
From The Boston Globe, April 20, 1900
``Rejoice, we have conquered,'' was the dying cry of of the ancient Greek runner Philippides as he rushed into the market place of Athens after the victory at Marathon, and it was in commemoration of this splendid heroism and the grand performance of Loues Spirodes at the revival of the Olympian games at Athens in 1896 that the Boston athletic association has held its annual Marathon run.
There were no wreaths of olive leaves cut from the sacred trees, no Stadion or Acropolis at the finish of the race held yesterday, and if the famous Spirodes had had to face the bunch of thin limbed, stout hearted Canadians and Americans he would still be carrying the mail over the old road from Marathon to Athens.
Caffery, the plucky little runner from Hamilton, Ont., is neither godlike in face nor form, but he has aquired a style of going while pegging around the Hamilton bay course that yesterday put the entire field of ambitious runners under the table and carried off the highest honors and the world's record for the 25 miles to boot.
It was a great day for Canada as three of her men were the first to reach the goal, and the rejoicing in the Dominion will offset any losses in the colonial troops now in distant lands.
An old Ashland veteran fireman and G.A.R. man when informed that three of the Canadians wre leading as they passed through that town, exclaimed ``Them Britishers started running at Concord 125 years ago and I'm darned if they hain't running still.''
The contest was undoubtedly the best the association has ever conducted and the public interest must be great when 25,000 people come out to witness the race, as was the case yesterday.
The Canadian bunch huddled together near the start, but after being placed on the line they were well separated. Graham lectured them about how they should behave and what was expected of them, and had scarcely stepped back to the side of the bridge before several of the front rank men broke away, with Barnard, the fleet sprinter of the Canadian bunch, cutting the pace.
This gave the handlers of the other men a line on the tactics of the Canadians, and word was passed to let the sprinters go and establish a steady pace that they could hold all the way through.
The second start was made at 11.55 and was a good one. After a few yards had been covered the Canadians went tearing through the field, with Barnard in the van, closely followed by Caffery and Sheering, all running at a one-mile clip.
It took but a short time to get the entire field of runners strung out, and then the small army of bicycle riders, carriages and motor machines began to gather headway after the runners.
Capt. Lombard of the bicycle corps, who attended the runners, gave each of his men a number which corresponded with that of a runner, and by stringing them along the first half mile of the course he avoided confusion, and the wheelmen carefully picked their men up as they came along.
Although the best previous record went by the board and was lowered by more than two minutes, it must be said that the conditions were very favorable for the fast time. Caffery, who represents the St. Patrick's A.C. of Hamilton, was in prime form and ran a magnificent race from start to finish. He rarely disputed a position with any of the runners that engaged him on the long journey, but stuck to his work and figured out his pace with grand accuracy and judgment.
Brignolia, who was regarded as the probable winner and the man on whom the local sports plunged, went wrong from the start and stopped running after covering about 14 miles. He had stitches in both sides after running four or five miles, and the Canadian string of runners were leaving him far in the rear at every stride.
At Newton Sheering was the first man to put in an appearance and he showed signs of distress. He was just two minutes ahead of the second man and took a short rest. Outside the town he became completely done up and rested by the roadside, where he was laid out in a helpless manner.
His attendants were on hand to care for him, and after a couple of minutes' hard rubbing and the application of restoratives he made an effort to rise but sank down to the turf again. His attendants gently lifted him to his feet, said a few encouraging words, and with their assistance he hobbled along for a short distance, then walked freely and finally broke into a slow run, much to the delight of his trainer.
While he was lying on the side of the road in a helpless condition Caffery, who had been a thorn in his side throughout the race, came tearing along at a swinging clip, and passed. As Caffery took the lead a look of anguish stole over Sheerings pinched face, but the only outward evidence was a sigh.
The last five miles of the course through Brookline were lined with people, and the sight of the towering buildings along the boulevard gave Caffery additional courage, as he saw that the end was not far distant. He continued his fast pace all the way over the remainder of the course and received an ovation as he rounded into Exeter st. from Commonwealth av.
After the race:
Caffery was strong enough to walk inside the B.A.A. clubhouse and take the elevator to the gymnasium floor, where he was examined by the doctors. They had hardly got to work on him when Sheering hove in sight and his boyish face and bedraggled appearance won the hearts of the women at least and they were very much in evidence.
The joy of the Canadians knew no bounds when their townsman Hughson tumbled into the dressing room and made it three straight for Canada.
After the doctors looked Caffery over and pronounced him in perfect condition, the writer talked with him about the hard-fought race he had just finished, and he said:
``... I was never worse than third at any time in the race. I ran eight miles in third place, and not until we had covered 16 miles did I manage to wiggle into first place. Once there I had no doubt of holding my place, for I knew my rivals and was confident they could not overtake me.''
An analysis, and a prediction
Among the interested spectators who followed the race was Ronald McDonald, the previous record holder and winner two years ago. He had this to say of the race:
``I never expected to see either Caffery or Sheering finish, as they went away at a mile clip. They run very differently from the way we do here. I noticed that they were running flat-footed, while we always run with the heel off the ground..
``The conditions were good for fast time, and I looked to see the record go. When I made the mark I had a sore knee and was not half ready for such a severe task. I had a fresh breeze blowing in my face all the way, and the men today had the wind at their backs. I only wish I had fitted for this race, for I know I could have beaten the mark set by Caffery. I look eagerly for next season, and you will find me in the race.''