Posts Tagged ‘May 6 1911’

Amateur Runners Competed for Prizes

July 16, 2010

The photo in the previous post turns out to be from the 12-mile “Modified Marathon” held in New York City on May 6, 1911. Lewis Tewanima (#375) finished first and  teammate Mitchell Arquette (#376) came in fifth out of a field of over 1,000 runners. Both received solid silver gold-lined loving cups as prizes from The Evening Mail, sponsor of the big race that was covered by all the New York City newspapers. The New York Times article titled, “Little Tewanima Wins Marathon,” began “Tewanina, a ward of the Nation and a student at the Carlisle Indian School, yesterday demonstrated the superiority of the red man as a foot runner over a cosmopolitan field which numbered nearly 1,000 athletes of all sorts and conditions in the so-called modified Marathon — the distance being twelve miles — under the auspices of The Evening Mail.” The crowd viewing the race was estimated at over 1,000,000 people.

Tewanima, along with the rest of the stronger runners, started at the back of the pack but soon worked his way to the front. He pulled away down the homestretch along Broadway, “…drawing away with each hundred yards covered. His teammate, Arquette, began to feel the ill-advised efforts to keep up with the lead man, and he slowly but surely fell back from the first bunch….When he [Tewanima] showed on the Mall, the City Hall plaza re-echoed with the plaudits in his favor. Seldom has an athlete received such a public ovation. He took the whole scene as a matter of course, and upon learning his time, grunted, shrugged his shoulders, and walked to the dressing rooms, weighed down somewhat by a massive cup, which was his winning portion.”

The New York Herald coverage featured a cartoon of Tewanima that was reproduced in the Carlisle Indian School newspaper. Shown in profile, Tewanima sports a diamond stickpin in his necktie, something he probably couldn’t afford from his earnings as a student. It isn’t clear yet if it was a prize for winning this race or a previous one. Regardless, he and the others clearly competed for prizes.