Sunday, April 13, 2014

1964 Boston Marathon Documentary Video: Long lost and worth the watch!

Here is a recently uploaded long lost documentary video of the 1964 Boston Marathon. It is well worth a watch to see Boston in the old days before the running boom. This is a gem!

Featured in the video is author Erich Segal, best known for writing "Love Story" and somewhat known for his commentary during the 1972 Olympic Marathon. According to a letsrun post: Walter Hewlett, the Harvard student and  2:32 marathoner in the film is worth billions today as a member of the Hewlett-Packard family. A Rev. O'Neil Shannon prepares for his 15th Boston Marathon and at the 2:20 mark his exercises are fantastic. It is either the greatest running warm-up or the beginnings of break-dancing. At 5:27 you see a man arguing with race official Jock Semple. Jock is best known for his altercation with Katherine Switzer  at the marathon in 1967. I also had a run in with Jock Semple back in a race on Cape Cod. I tried my best, but his temper got the best of me too, as I tried to plead my case. I had placed and should have won a medal at a NE Junior 20K (or 1/2 marathon?) Championship race (1977?). I got nowhere with him and I got no medal for placing, because I had signed up for the race the morning of the race and thus no medal-which all went to runners mostly runners from his club. the BAA. The guy tells Jock, "You've got a fresh mouth with everybody!" I agree!  I also had the pleasure of  meeting Johnny Kelley, the elder, many times throughout the years. The top American (5th place) Hal Higdon also sent an email comment to myself and the superintendent of schools in Nashua back in 2000 when I was not allowed to take a personal day to run the Boston Marathon.

The actual running of the race starts at the 13:30 mark. John Kelley (the Younger) is number 2, Hal Higdon is number 13, and Ted Corbitt is number 19, Check out the pit stop (full gas station) at the 16:00 mark! I am not sure what Jock Semple is doing to John Kelley at the 19:50 mark: wiping off sweat? I love how nonchalantly the race winner, Aurele Vandendriessche crosses the finish line and then the unattended finish line for later participants. Also noteworthy was the break-dancing reverend running through Boston traffic to get to the end and the guy being dressed and hoisted up by his buddies after finishing, "Keep my legs straight!"

Here is a brief recap of the race from the Boston Marathon media guide:

68th Boston Marathon – Monday, April 20, 1964
As the field exceeded 300 runners for the first time, Aurele Vandendriessche successfully defended his championship with a 2:19:59 performance. The lean Belgian attacked the Newton hills in strong fashion, eventually pulling away from the Canadians and Finns who were dictating the pace. Noted Boston Marathon writer and historian Hal Higdon was fifth.
1. Aurele Vandendriessche (BEL)2:19:596. David Ellis (CAN)2:22:49
2. Tenho Salakka (FIN)2:20:487. John J. Kelley (CT)2:27:23
3. Ronald Wallingford (CAN)2:20:518. Osvaldo Suarez (ARG)2:27:51
4. Paavo Pystynen (FIN)2:21:339. Paul Hoffman (CAN)2:28:07
5. Hal Higdon (IN)2:21:5510. William Allen (CAN)2:28:19

A side note, one of the filmers of this documentary was D. A. Pennebaker, who also completed the Bob Dylan film Don't Look Back that same year (1965)... including this song:


Brian Baker said...


Jim, to say this is a gem is an incredible understatement!

I've been mesmerized watching this. It is AWESOME!

Jim Hansen said...

I met Hal Higdon today at the Boston Marathon Expo and talked to him about this video.