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Boston Marathon History: 1946-1950

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The late Boston Globe Sports Editor Jerry Nason, the person responsible for documenting most of the written history of the Boston Marathon, called this the most significant race of all time. Running to dramatize the plight of his starving countrymen, Greek marathoner Stylianos Kyriakides hung gallantly onto John A. Kelley and ran him down in the late stages of the race with a 2:29:27 winning performance. The race was also significant because it heralded the dominance of foreign runners in future years. This was also the final year that the large contingent of race vehicles was allowed on the course. In the following year, B.A.A. President Walter Brown would allow only three press buses along the route.


Korean Yun Bok Suh ran a world-best 2:25:39, marking the only time the men's world record has been set on the Boston Marathon course. Suh, who is also the first Asian champion, and, at 5'1", the smallest Boston champion, received funds from American servicemen to cover the cost of his trip to Boston. After overcoming a fall caused by a stray fox terrier, Suh took the lead from Finland's Mikko Heitanen on the last of the Newton hills and ran unchallenged to the finish.


The fourth and final of Gerard Cote's victories was earned following a hard-fought battle with Ted Vogel, of Watertown, Mass. Following an elbow-to-elbow duel during the first 23 miles - that on occasion bordered on the unsportsmanlike - Cote pulled away for a 44-second margin of victory in 2:31:02.


Unsure about his fitness, Sweden's Karl Gosta Leandersson ran over the course 10 days before the race, unofficially breaking the course record and injuring his Achilles tendon in the process. But the Swedish champion recovered in time to post a three-minute, eight-second win in 2:31:50 over Vic Dyrgall after nearly being hit by an automobile.


The extent of the foreign dominance began to deepen as the Korean contingent of Kee Yong Ham, Kil Yoon Song, and Yun Chi Choi finished 1-2-3 respectively. Nicknamed "Swift Premium" by the race writers, Kil was ranked only third on the Korean team, behind their national champion and Olympian Yun Chi Choi. However, Kil, who built an overwhelming advantage between miles 12 and 21, walked four times along the final four miles, before finishing first in 2:32:39.

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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.