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Boston Marathon History: 1941-1945

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1941

Leslie Pawson captured his third Boston win with his fastest time (2:30:38) on a balmy 72-degree day. Pawson, now 36, trailed former champions Gerard Cote, John A. Kelley and Tarzan Brown during the early miles. When Pawson made his move, only Kelley responded. Pawson beat Kelley to the finish by 48 seconds as Kelley finished second for the fourth time in eight years.

1942

Benefiting from a cold, 44-degree day, Medford milkman Bernard Joseph Smith smashed Cote's course mark and established an American record with a stunning 2:26:51. At 6'2", Smith was the tallest runner ever to win the race up until this time. Smith was ill the morning of the race and had to be talked into running by his wife. He grabbed the lead from runner-up Lou Gregory past the 21-mile mark, and forced the pace to the finish to eclipse the former record.

1943

The two-year long Cote-Kelley battle began in earnest as the two matched strides for the first 21 miles. Although burdened by a strained Achilles tendon, Cote managed to pull away from Kelley in the final miles to finish first in 2:28:25 and register his second Boston title.

1944

Cote's second consecutive triumph, and third of four, also served as the most frustrating of John A. Kelley's seven runner-up finishes. Kelley had caught Cote three miles from the finish but was unsuccessful in seven attempts to pull ahead. Kelley's game effort left him 60 seconds behind Cote's winning time of 2:31:50 at the finish.

1945

Following a 10-year absence, the 37-year-old John A. Kelley returned to the winner's circle with a triumphant 2:30:40. In contrast to his past efforts, Kelley was not among the early leaders. Instead, he did not catch Guardsman Lloyd Bairstow until Coolidge Corner and proceeded to accelerate to a two-minute, 10-second margin of victory at the finish.

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B.A.A. Moment 2

1935 John A. Kelley

Born in West Medford, Massachusetts as one of ten children, Kelley ran track and cross-country at Arlington High School in Massachusetts. He did not finish his first Boston Marathon in 1928, but eventually competed in a record 61 Boston Marathons. A legend of the marathon, Kelley won the 1935 and 1945 runnings of the Boston Marathon. He finished in second place at Boston a record seven times. Between 1934 to 1950, he finished in the top five 15 times at Boston, consistently running in the 2:30s. He ran his last full marathon at Boston in 1992 at the age of 84, his 61st start and 58th finish there.