History of Johnny Miles event

Published on June 18, 2010

Johnny Miles

Sydney Mines native Johnny Miles skyrocketed to international fame in 1926, when he defeated his own running idol at the Boston Marathon and created a new world record, finishing the race in just over 2:25:40.

Miles returned to Cape Breton with a parade of fans behind him, cheering on their hometown hero.

He had a disappointing show the following year, dropping out after seven miles due to problems with his sneakers.

In 1927, Miles went to Hamilton to run the Canadian marathon trial for the Amsterdam Olympics the following year. He made the team and was urged by the coach to remain in Hamilton and take advantage of the city's training facilities. Miles took a job with International Harvester, where he remained for 43 years.

He missed the 1928 Boston Marathon in order to attend the Olympics, where he ran 17th in a field of 68 runners.

A return to the Boston Marathon in 1928, however, brought more accolades for Miles. He swept through the race with a victorious time of 2:33:08.

Miles died in June 2003 at the age of 97, on the day of the event that bears his name.

Dr. Johnny Miles Williston

A native of Cape Breton, Dr. Johnny Miles Williston practiced medicine for four decades and was a great promoter of sport and physical fitness.

Williston organized the first fitness workshop for the Pictou County Medical Society and started the Pictou County Pacers Club for cardiac patients. He was involved with the Pictou County Roadrunners and the Pictou County Sports Heritage Hall of Fame.

But he may have been most widely known for founding the Johnny Miles Marathon in 1975, in memory of the Cape Breton runner for whom he was named.

Williston grew up in Sydney but moved to Pictou County in 1956 to start his medical practice. He would make Pictou County his lifelong home.

Williston's commitment to health promotion became a lifelong effort - he played a role in the West Side Community Centre and was the first chair of the town's recreation commission.

He was co-director of the Johnny Miles Marathon, along with former town councillor Manos, until 2000, when Terry Curley stepped into that role. Even when others took the helm of the Johnny Miles Marathon, Williston never lost his passion for ensuring that the event continued to grow.

Williston died in December 2005 at the age of 78.