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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

JOHNNY MILES

Inducted in 1967

Member Details

Date of Birth: October 20, 1905
Place of Birth: Halifax, England
Date of Passing: June 15, 2003
Sport: Athletics
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1925

Canadian five-mile championship

1926

Boston Marathon, first place

1929

Toronto, 15-mile, first place

Boston Marathon, first place

Hamilton Marathon, first place

1930

British Empire Games, bronze medal - marathon

Honoured Member JOHNNY MILES
Inspire

Story

It's a long way from the coal mines of Cape Breton to the streets of Boston, but if anyone was prepared to make that journey, it was Johnny Miles. Miles' family immigrated to Canada shortly after he was born in England. His father was a manager of a Cape Breton coal mine, and Miles went to work in the mine as an eleven-year-old to help support his family while his father served in the military during the First World War. He began running in 1922 as a 16-year-old, winning two, three-mile races in Cape Breton in 1923. Miles made his mark on the national stage in September 1925 by winning the national five-mile championship and finishing third in the mile event later that same day. In 1926, having never run in races longer than ten miles, Miles travelled to Boston to compete in the Boston Marathon. The event that year was billed as a battle between 1924 Olympic champion, Albin Stenroos of Finland, and the American veteran Clarence DeMar. However, the 20-year-old virtual unknown from Nova Scotia surprised all in attendance by winning the race and breaking the Boston Marathon record by over four minutes. (It was later discovered that race organizers had measured the course improperly, making it too short by 176 yards and Miles' record was not allowed to stand). Miles dominated the road racing circuit in the Maritimes throughout 1926 and 1927 but failed to duplicate the international success he achieved in Boston. In 1928, he moved to Hamilton, Ontario, to compete in the Olympic trials that summer. He captured the 10,000m race and was named to the team for the Amsterdam Games. In Holland, Miles represented Canada in the marathon and finished in 16th place. Miles recaptured his top form a year later at the 1929 Boston Marathon when he became only the second Canadian man to win the famed event twice. He competed in only two more Boston Marathons, never finishing higher than tenth. Miles represented Canada at the first-ever British Empire Games (now the Commonwealth Games) in his adopted-hometown of Hamilton and captured a bronze medal in the marathon. The marathon, in which he placed 14th, at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles was Miles' last major competition. Following his competitive career, Miles continued to give back to the road racing community. Since 1975 New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, has been host to the Johnny Miles Marathon, and in 1979 Miles was recognized with the Will Cloney Award, awarded by the Boston Athletic Association, which runs the Boston Marathon, for continued service to the sport of road running. In 1983, Miles was made a member of the Order of Canada.


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