About the Holiday
On your mark, get set, run! More than 2 million people in 160 countries have pledged to run on today’s holiday. Global Running Day is the evolution of National Running Day in the United States, which was started in 2009 by leading running organizations and races throughout the nation. It has been held annually on the first Wednesday of June ever since. This year will mark the first-ever Million Kid Run that aims to have a million kids around the world pledge to run with the hope that they will discover the joys of running and will be inspired to continue the sport through life. Participating is as easy as running in your neighborhood, gathering with friends to run, or even playing tag with your kids.
The Wildest Race Ever: The Story of the 1904 Olympic Marathon
By Meghan McCarthy
On August 30, 1904 the first United States Olympic Marathon took place at the World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. Torrential rainstorms in the days before the race had washed away the original route, so a new, more difficult route was mapped out. Some of the 32 racers were:
Fred Lorz, a Boston bricklayer; John Lorden, the winner of the 1903 Boston Marathon; Sam Mellor from New York and the winner of two major marathons; Felix Carvajal, a mailman from Cuba; Arthur Newton; Albert Corey; Len Tau, a long-distance running messenger from South Africa; William Garcia, the “greatest long-distance runner on the Pacific Coast”; and Thomas Hicks, who had only trained on flat terrain and was not ready for hilly St. Louis. There were also racers from countries all over the world.
At the starting line the racers waited in 90-degree heat for the signal. When the pistol shot rang out, they took off. The early leader was Fred Lorz. As the racers took to the hills outside the stadium so did cars full of reporters, judges, and doctors. Some spectators rode along side them on bicycles. All these vehicles stirred up so much dust that the runners choked on it.
At mile two, Sam Mellor and Fred Lorz were in the lead with Thomas Hicks only a little behind, but at mile 9 Lorz suffered terrible cramps and was driven away in a car. Now Albert Corey and William Garcia were neck and neck, and Hicks was catching up!
And what about Felix Carvajal? He ran and ran—but he also stopped and stopped. He loved talking to the spectators that cheered him on. It gave him an opportunity to practice his English! Arthur Newton, Sam Mellor, and Thomas Hicks exchanged the lead several times. No one knew who would win!
Where was Len Tau? Unfortunately, an angry dog chased him until he was a mile off course. Felix Carvajal also got distracted—not by a dog, but by an apple orchard! He settled down under a tree to satisfy his hunger. Soon, Mellor began suffering cramps and was suddenly out of the race.
Hicks suffering unbearable thirst in the staggering heat, began begging his trainers for water. They refused, instead giving him a concoction of strychnine and egg white. Another name for strychnine is rat poison! What would happen to Hicks after he drank it?Meanwhile who should appear out of the dust? Fred Lorz! He ran through the tape at the finish line and was declared the winner! Cheers erupted from the crowd. But wait! Someone said that Lorz had cheated. The cheers turned to boos, and even though Lorz said it was all a joke, the race committee banned Lorz from racing for life.
Hicks, somehow, kept running, buoyed by the cheering crowds. His trainers gave him more of the “health” drink, which made Hicks sluggish and confused. Nevertheless, he struggled on. When he came to the top of the last hill, seeing and hearing the crowds energized him. He pushed himself to run harder and harder until he broke through the tape. He collapsed on the ground just as he was declared the winner. He was rushed to the hospital, but was well enough to accept his award an hour later.
What happened to the other runners? All, except William Garcia who was overtaken by the clouds of dust, crossed the finish line at various times and with unique comments on their performance. These racers may have been very different, but they all had one thing in common. Each one accomplished an astounding feat: They competed side by side in the “killer marathon” of 1904 while upholding the Olympic spirit.
Meghan McCarthy with wit and suspense brings the story of the 1904 marathon to life for kids used to paved, well-marked routes, energizing sports drinks, supportive running shoes, and comfortable running clothes. Perhaps the only similarities to today’s races and yesteryear’s are the start and finish line and the cheering crowds! McCarthy’s inclusion of the humorous and the near-disastrous will keep readers’ hearts racing until the very end, when the topsy-turvy finish is revealed!
McCarthy illustrates The Wildest Race Ever with verve and comic flourishes that well-represent this extraordinary Olympics event. Kids will giggle and gasp to see what happens to the racers – and even a couple of spectators – during the race.
The Wildest Race Ever is a must-read for sports and history enthusiasts alike!
Ages 4 – 9
Simon & Schuster, 2016 | ISBN 978-1481406390
Global Running Day Activity
Sassy Shoe Laces
Did you know that having cool shoelaces makes you run faster? Well…that might not be exactly true, but you will definitely look good no matter what you’re doing if you make some unique laces for your shoes.
- Shoelaces in any color
- Fabric paint or markers
- With the fabric paint or markers make dots, stripes, or any designs you like. You can even paint fish or flowers!
- Enjoy them on your run!