Robert Fowler (athlete)

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Robert Arthur "Bob" Fowler (18 September 1882 -?[nb 1]) was a Newfoundland-born long-distance runner who was recognized by the International Association of Athletics Federations as having set a world's best in the marathon on January 1, 1909 with a time of 2:52:45.4 at the Empire City Marathon in Yonkers, New York.[3][4][5][nb 2]


Fowler competed for the United States in the marathon at the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri as well as the 1906 Intercalated Games in Athens, Greece.[1] He did not finish either race.[nb 3] Including the 1906 Games, Fowler was a three-time member of the United States Olympic Marathon Team.[9][10]

Fowler finished third in the 1905 Boston Marathon behind Fred Lorz and Louis Marks.[11] Two years later in Boston, he finished second to Thomas Longboat in a race in which he was blocked by a freight train in Framingham, Massachusetts for approximately two minutes.[12] Fowler was in a second pack of runners that was separated from Longboat's lead pack when the train crossed the tracks.[12] He competed in a total of nine Boston Marathons between 1903 and 1912, missing the 1906 running because it conflicted with the Olympic Games.[13]

Fowler was born in Trinity Bay, Newfoundland and attended Saint Bonaventure's College in St. John's.[1] He emigrated with his family to Boston, sailing from Port aux Basques in June 1901, and was living at 76 Berkshire Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts at the time of the 1904 Olympic games.[1] Fowler is the first Newfoundland-born Olympic marathoner [14] and, as he did not become a US citizen until September 16, 1907, is considered by some to be the first Newfoundland Olympian.[nb 4]


  1. ^ Fowler is known to have visited Rome, Ireland, and Newfoundland in 1954 before returning to Malden, Massachusetts. An endnote in Fred Mason's article refers to a 1981 interview between Robert Fowler and the late Frank Graham, original archivist with the Sport Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador.[1] However, this reference is based on a misinterpretation of an ambiguous reference in Fowler's entry in the Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador[2] (under the name "Fowlow") to an interview with Graham by the author of the encyclopedia entry, Bertram G. Riggs. The reference simply reads "Frank Graham, interview (Dec. 1981)".
  2. ^ Many references incorrectly refer to this race as the Yonkers Marathon. The Yonkers Marathon, which during the early 1900s was traditionally run during late November, was won over a month earlier by Jim Crowley.[6][7] Running Times has referred to the New Year's Day race as the Yonkers Empire City Marathon.[8]
  3. ^ Conditions were reported to be poor for both races and less than half of the starters would finish either one.[1]
  4. ^ Fred Mason wrote: "...Fowler did not take attestation of US citizenship until September 16, 1907. This means, technically, that he was still a citizen of the Dominion of Newfoundland when he competed in 1904, confirming his place as the first Newfoundland Olympian, whatever jersey he wore."[1] However, the Dominion of Newfoundland was not formed until 1907. Prior to then, the territory had the status of a British colony.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "A 'new-found' Olympic Nation Newfoundland's involvement with the Olympic Games, 1904-1934". Proceedings: International Symposium for Olympic Research, Oct, 2006 by Fred Mason. Retrieved May 10, 2010.
  2. ^ Smallwood, Joseph Roberts; Pitt, Robert D.W.; Horan, Catherine; Riggs, Bertram G. (1984). Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador, Volume Two. St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada: Newfoundland Book Publishers (1967) Ltd. p. 352. ISBN 0-920508-13-8. Retrieved May 25, 2016. 
  3. ^ Butler, Mark, ed. (2011). 13th IAAF World Championships In Athletics: IAAF Statistics Handbook. Daegu 2011. Monaco: IAAF Media & Public Relations Department. pp. 595, 612, 614–615. Archived from the original (pdf) on November 23, 2012. Retrieved September 28, 2011. 
  4. ^ "POLICE BREAK UP YONKERS MARATHON; Order Official Off Track and Referee Sullivan Stops the Contest.", New York Times, p. 7, January 2, 1909, retrieved May 10, 2010 
  5. ^ Sullivan, J.E., ed. (1910), "Marathon Road Races", Spalding's Official Athletic Almanac for 1910, Group XII. No. 1, New York: American Sports Publishing Co., p. 93 
  6. ^ Association of Road Racing Statisticians. Yonkers Marathon. Retrieved May 15, 2010
  7. ^ "J.F. CROWLEY WINS YONKERS MARATHON; Irish-American Runner Leads Big Field Over Westchester County Roads.", New York Times, p. 7, November 27, 1908, retrieved May 15, 2010 
  8. ^ Robinson, Roger (January–February 2009). "Footsteps: 'Tis the (Racing) Season; 100 Years of Holiday Running". Running Times Magazine. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  9. ^ USA Track & Field (2004). "2004 USA Olympic Team Trials: Men's Marathon Media Guide Supplement" (pdf). Santa Barbara, California: USA Track & Field. pp. 7, 11. Retrieved February 21, 2011. 
  10. ^ "OLYMPIC GAMES TEAM UNOFFICIALLY SELECTED; Representative Athletes Will Be Sent to Athens. SUBSCRIPTIONS COMING IN Andrew Carnegie Expected to Make Big Contribution -- List May Be Increased by Committee." (pdf). The New York Times. New York. February 19, 1906. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  11. ^ "A New Marathon Champion: Frederick Lorz of the Mohawk Athletic Club of New York Captured the Great Run in an Exciting Contest". Boston Evening Transcript. Boston. April 20, 1905. p. 4. Retrieved February 9, 2011. 
  12. ^ a b 1907, Canadian Indian Victorious On Changed Course, Friday, April 19, 12:00 p.m.
  13. ^ Profile at
  14. ^ Martin, David E.; Roger W. H. Gynn (May 2000). The Olympic Marathon. Human Kinetics Publishers. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-88011-969-6. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
United States Johnny Hayes
Men's Marathon World Record Holder
January 1, 1909 – February 12, 1909
Succeeded by
United States James Clark