Crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon
October 30, 1905|
Halifax, West Yorkshire, England
|Died||June 15, 2003
|Achievements and titles|
1925 Canadian 5-mile champion1928 Canadian 10000m champion
|Olympic finals||1928 Summer Olympics
1932 Summer Olympics
Born in Halifax, West Yorkshire, he moved with his family to Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia. At age 11 he supported his family by working in the coal mines. As a teenager he won local races. He won the Canadian five-mile (8 km) championship in 1925 and finished third in the one-mile later that day. He also won the Halifax Herald 10-mile (16 km) competition in the same year. Miles was employed delivering groceries throughout the countryside by horse and wagon. To stay in shape he would run behind the wagon wearing heavy boots.
In 1926 Miles's neighbours raised a few hundred dollars to send him to the Boston Marathon by train. This would be Miles's debut marathon, having never run a race longer than 10 miles. The field at the 1926 Boston Marathon included four-time winner Clarence DeMar and 1924 Olympic champion Albin Stenroos, whom Miles idolized. Miles arrived at the marathon as an unknown, competing in a handmade singlet adorned with a maple leaf and the letters "NS" for Nova Scotia and a pair of 98-cent sneakers. Stenroos attempted to break away after the first few miles, leaving DeMar behind. Miles stayed with him until Heartbreak Hill, at which point he passed him. Miles completed the race in a time of 2:25:40. His time was so fast that the course was remeasured and found to be 176 yards short.
Miles attempted to defend his title at the 1927 Boston Marathon, but dropped out early due to problems with his shoes.
In 1929 Miles returned to Boston and won the marathon in a time of 2:33:08.
Miles competed in two more Boston Marathons, never finishing higher than 10th.
Between his two wins in Boston, Miles won the Canadian 10000 metre championship in 1928. He later won a bronze medal in the marathon at the 1930 British Empire Games. He represented Canada at the 1928 Summer Olympics and finished 17th in the 1928 Olympic marathon. Four years later at the 1932 Summer Olympics he finished 14th in the Olympic marathon race.
After the 1932 Olympics, Miles retired from competition and become an executive with International Harvester in Hamilton, Ontario. In 1982, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada. He was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame and the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame. Miles died at age 97 in Hamilton, Ontario. At the time of his death, he was Canada's oldest living Olympic athlete and the oldest Boston Marathon winner.
Since 1975 the Johnny Miles Marathon has been held in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia in his honour. An annual 5K race is also held in his honour in Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia. Sydney Mines also displays his image on a sign at the entrance of the town and a statue of Miles is displayed on Main St.
- Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame citation
- Article covering Johnny Miles
- NY Times Obituary
- Canada's Sports Hall of Fame
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