a few nights before the BAA (Boston Marathon)
in 1911, in my sleep I dreamt distinctly
that I had won the big race.
Of course, I know such things are just a
coincidence, but I was glad of the encouragement.
One or two runners thought I might win and
just one newspaper, the old Boston Journal,
had an item in Bob Dunbar's column, saying,
'Watch DeMar, he might win in fast time,'
" Clarence DeMar wrote in his autobiography,
And DeMar did win Boston that year and a
record seven times in all. First in 1911
and then in '22, '23, '24, '27, '28 and
'30. Eventually, DeMar would race in 33
Boston Marathons between 1910 and 1954,
completing his last at age 65.
DeMar grew up in poverty and was separated
from his family through much of his childhood.
He grew fiercely independent. He ran cross-country
while a junior in college, but dropped out
mid-year. He needed to help his mother support
his five younger brothers and sisters. He
worked in a print shop to earn a living.
Eventually DeMar earned as an associate's
degree from Harvard University and a master's
degree from Boston University while attending
night school. He trained for races by running
to and from work each day.
He was known for having a wild side. DeMar
didn't take well to photographers, passersby
or spectators. DeMar felt they distracted
his concentration during workouts and in
races. In 1922, he was grazed by a car during
the Boston Marathon and set out to punch
the driver. At the 1935 Boston Marathon,
a drunk man staggered into his path wanting
to shake hands, there was a confrontation
before DeMar continued running.
But through all this, DeMar – a professional
linotyper, writer, Sunday school teacher,
boy scout master, farmer, husband and father
– is a legend. DeMar succumbed to
stomach cancer in 1958, age 70. But his
life as a runner is celebrated with every
year the Boston Marathon continues.
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