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Google Doodle celebrates long-distance runner Tom Longboat

The Canadian was the first First Nations member to win the Boston Marathon in 1907.

Tom Longboat became the first First Nations member to win the Boston Marathon in 1907.


Canadian marathon champ Tom Longboat would have turned 131 on Monday, prompting a Google Doodle to celebrate his accomplishments.

The member of the Onondaga Nation was born in 1887 on the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford, Ontario. He began racing as a teenager after being inspired by Bill Davis, a First Nations runner who took second place in the 1901 Boston Marathon. Longboat soon eclipsed Davis' result by coming first in the Boston Marathon in 1907. "First Nations" is Canada's term for indigenous peoples.

In his four years as an amateur, Longboat only lost three races. He turned professional in 1909.

Race Starter

Longboat (right) prepares to race in 1912.

Getty Images

As a professional runner, he developed a novel approach to training by rotating days of hard workouts, easier workouts and recovery days. These methods are the norm now, but led the sports press of the day to label him "lazy."

Longboat served his country as a dispatch runner during World War I, mostly in France. During this time, he was declared dead twice.

He retired to the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario -- where June 4 is Tom Longboat Day -- and died in 1949.

Clarification at 5:59 a.m. PT: Tom Longboat would have been 131 on Monday.

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