NDN All-Star #8 Tom Longboat (Onondaga) was a long-distance runner from Canada. I selected him for the NDN All-Stars line up because of his unbelievable accomplishments, including winning the Boston Marathon in 1907 – shattering the record by a staggering 5 MINUTES (a whole mile’s worth of running time). He also won two Canadian championships, two US championships, and represented Canada in the 1908 Summer Olympics in London.
I will be honest… I didn’t know about Tom Longboat before I started doing research for this whole NDN All-Stars thing. I could barely believe what I was reading when I came across information about Tom Longboat. I am glad that I found out about him – and can now share his story and accomplishments with all of you!
At the beginning of the 20th Century, long distance running was an international phenomenon – with races being held all over North America and Europe. And these were not just ANY races… they were true feats of endurance. Longboat beat an Italian runner named Dorando Pietri of Italy for the “World Professional Running Championship”. The race was held in Madison Square Garden on December 15, 190. Longboat won when Dorando collapsed with half a mile to go. When Longboat crossed the finish line, he had been running for 2 hours, 45 minutes, and 5.2 seconds, and he won a prize of $3,750.
His success as a long-distance runner made him one of Canada’s first sports celebrities and earned him the nickname “The Iron Man”. He was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1955 as part of their inaugural class of inductees.
Tom Longboat remains one of Canada’s most celebrated athletes to this day. Here is a short animated story of NDN All-Star #8 Tom Longboat that is pretty entertaining…
During World War I, Tom Longboat was a messenger, running through heavy fire to deliver communications to Allied Forces. There is a story that once, when he made a fast journey and delivered the message he was tasked with, the commanding officer said something to the effect of “Wow! That was fast! Who do you think you are? Tom Longboat?” Tom replied simply, “Yes, as a matter of fact.”
A world famous long distance runner, Boston Marathon winner AND war hero! NDN All-Star #8 Tom Longboat – an NDN All-Star everyone should know about!
If you enjoy the content here and would like to help support our mission of celebrating great Native athletes of the past and present, please take a look at our NDN All-Stars Shop. Proceeds from every purchase help us continue to retell these stories. Also, if you would like to donate to this effort, please visit our Patreon page.
Thank you for your support!