Sydney Mines hosts annual Johnny Miles Festival
Published Friday, August 4, 2017 4:54PM ADT
The memory of two-time Boston Marathon winner Johnny Miles was once again honoured in his hometown of Sydney Mines, N.S., on Thursday.
Miles raced to his first Boston Marathon win over 90 years ago. He quickly became a household name.
"Johnny Miles to this community in one word: hero," says Johnny Miles Festival co-ordinator Kim Rideout.
Wearing a $0.98 pair of sneakers purchased at the local co-op, Miles blazed to victory in his first Boston Marathon in 1926 after entering the race as a pretty-much unknown.
He would win his second title three years later.
"He knew that he was going to win,” says Johnny Miles researcher Eugene Ramsey. “He wasn't just going to run, he was going to win."
The premiere event of the Johnny Miles Festival is the annual five-kilometre road race where local runners follow in Johnny's footsteps, darting down the same roads he did when training for Boston back in the 1920s.
"Johnny trained along the train tracks when he was running, and working for the co-op,” says Rideout. “This community worked together to raise the funds to send him to Boston. Made his t-shirt, which he wore, which is why we symbolize the maple leaf with the 14 every single year."
While the Johnny Miles Festival is held each year in early August, the pride in the homegrown champion is evident all year round. The highway sign as you enter Sydney Mines greets hundreds of thousands of motorists each year.
"We are totally committed to Johnny and keeping his name alive,” Rideout says. “As long as we're alive, we will keep his name alive."
Miles lived to be 97 years old, passing away in 2003. He remained active in his community well into his golden years, sponsoring programs encouraging children to run and keep fit.
"He's a symbol for each and every one of us that it doesn't matter where you're from, what you do, as long as you believe and work hard, you can accomplish."
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald.