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TOM LONGBOAT: Google Doodle celebrate life of marathon runner
Google Doodle are celebrating “one of the greatest marathoners of all time” today on what would have been his 131st birthday.
Tom Longboat was a professional racer and marathon runner.
He also worked as a dispatch runner during World War I for the Canadian Army.
Today is not only the legends birthday, but it is also officially Tom Longboat Day in Ontario.
The animated Doodle depicts Longboat doing what he did best, running.
In the Google Doodle, which includes the Canadian maple leaf, he is transitioning between military and marathon clothing.
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“He could run from the front and win. He could win from behind and win”
Dr Bruce Kidd – Olympic distance runner
Who was Tom Longboat?
Tom Charles Longboat was born on June 4, 1887 in the Six Nations Indian reserve near Brantford, Ontario.
His Iroquois name was Cogwagee, which means “everything”.
Longboat, a member of the Onondaga Nation, began racing when he was a teen in 1905.
In his first race, the Victoria Day race at Caledonia, where he finished second.
GOOGLE DOODLE: Tom Longboat was a professional marathoner and WW1 dispatch runner
The talented marathon runner was inspired by Bill Davies, who was also a First Nations runner.
Bill had come second in the Boston Marathon in 1901.
Longboat went on to become the first member of the First Nations to win the Boston Marathon two years after starting to run.
During his impressive career as an amateur racer, he only lost three races.
Two years after winning the Boston Maraton he went on to become a professional racer.
FAMOUS RUNNERS: Alfred Shrubb, Tom Longboat, John Hayes and Dorando Pietri
He set world records for the 24 and 32km races.
Longboat also competed at the 1908 Olympic Games in London, and won the title of Professional Champion of the World in 1909.
He did not live up to his expectations at the Olympic Games – he sadly collapsed and was carried grief-stricken from the course.
Longboat, who was known as the “bulldog of Britannia”, was one of the first athletes to implement a specific training technique.
The technique involved rotating days off hard workouts, easier workouts and recovery days.
Longboat was faced with scepticism as to the efficiency of his methods, but today this is widely accepted.
His promoters and the press often labeled him “lazy” due to his recovery periods.
BEST: Alfred Shrudd said Tom Longboat was one of the best marathon runners in history
Dr Bruce Kidd, Olympic distance runner and Longboat biographer, said: “He could run from the front and win. He could win from behind and win.
“He beat everybody of his generation. He set record after record after record.
“And he did so through training methods that he inherited or acquired through his indigenous community and those exemplars, and he did so really in a way that many other people subsequently adopted to their advantage.”
Longboat not only ran races, but also worked during World War I as a dispatch runner for the Canadian Army.
The athlete would run across France to delivery messages between military post.
He also kept in shape by racing in inter-battalion sporting contests.
This was an incredible dangerous position which left him vulnerable.
In fact, he was mistakenly declared dead twice during his service.
His first wife remarried because she believed her husband was dead.
READY: Alfred Shrubb (left) and Tom Longboat (right) before long distance race
After the war he retired from marathon running and lived in Toronto where he worked until 1944.
He later married Martha Silversmith, and they had four children together.
After retiring completely he moved to the Six Nations reserve where he lived to the end of his days.
Longboat passed away on January 9, 1949 at the age of 62 after catching pneumonia.
After his death he was called “one of the greatest, if not the greatest marathoner of all time” by English long-distance runner Alfred Shrubb.