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Google Honors Tom Longboat on 131st Anniversary of his birth


Google celebrates Tom Longboat's spectacular career as a marathon runner.

Longboat was born June 4, 1887, and went on to forge a spectacular long-distance career that made him one of the world's most famous athletes in the early 20th century. Longboat was an Onondaga (Cogwagee), distance runner from the Six Nations Territory. The Akwesasne Mohawk Board of Education's students celebrate Tom Longboat with annual race every spring.

Among his many accomplishments was winning the Boston Marathon in 1907 and setting a new course record of 2:24:24 by smashing the record by more than five minutes.

In 1909, he won the world professional marathon championships at Madison Square Garden, pulling ahead of British champion Alfie Shrubb in the final mile of the race.

And in 1912, he set a new 15-mile world record of one hour, 18 minutes, and 10 seconds - seven minutes better than his fastest amateur time.

Tom Longboat running in a marathon 1907.

Veterans Affairs Canada website notes Longboat set aside his athletic career in February 1916 to enlist, serving as a dispatch runner in France in the First World War. He was wounded twice during his time of service, but survived the war and returned to Canada in 1919.

Bill 120 was enacted in Ontario in 2008 to proclaim June 4 Tom Longboat Day.

According to Google's History of the Google Doodle, the doodle originated with the founders playfully inserting a simple "Burning Man" stick figure behind the second 'o' in the logo during the 1998 festival in the Nevada desert. The practice has grown so much over the years, with the doodle celebrating events both famous and obscure, that it's now overseen by a team of anonymous illustrators known as "doodlers."

The Canadian Sports Hall of Fame states Longboat lived out the rest of his life in relative obscurity, working for the City of Toronto before returning to Six Nations. He died in 1949 at the age of 62.


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