Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Distance runner John Paul considered one of the greatest

Distance runner John Paul considered one of the greatest
The Guardian

SUMMERSIDE — Long-distance runner William John Paul — originally from Half Way River, N.S., but an Island resident for over 50 years — will become a member of the P.E.I. Sports Hall of Fame on Sept. 20.
The annual inductions take place at the Silver Fox Curling and Yacht Club.
Paul will be joining two other great Mi’kmaq runners, Barney Francis and Michael Thomas, in the Island’s sporting shrine.
John Paul was a tough man, a hard, disciplined runner but with a majestic style that brought him countless titles in a career that spanned almost three decades and approximately 500 races.
Self-trained on the Island’s dirt roads, Paul’s finest hour probably came in 1936, when he finished an impressive 13th in the prestigious Boston Marathon.
Ten years later, after serving his country in the Second World War, Paul again competed in Boston and recorded yet another top-50 finish.
In the region, Paul was always a draw and spectators loved to see that smooth, elegant gait striding along, usually at the head of the field.
When John Paul raced, it was an event, and to go along with the countless titles, he shattered numerous regional records.
Interviewed some years after his last competitive race at the age of 50, John Paul attributed his success to having “the wind, and the will-power.”
The Saint John 10-mile trophy was his own personal property, winning it seven times, and other notable wins came in the Dartmouth six-mile race, the Cape Breton marathon and the prestigious Halifax Herald 10-miler, which he won twice, in 1940 and 1945, becoming the first Island winner since Michael Thomas in 1912.
Life was never easy for John Paul, both during his running days and in his retirement, but he left a legacy for all of those that were privileged to see him run.
One of his fans, Warren ‘Bun’ Hood remarked in Harold Gaudet’s Evening Patriot Town Talk column in 1976 that to see John Paul was “poetry in motion” and the “P.E.I. Sports Hall of Fame will never be right until the name William John Paul is enshrined therein.”
Tickets for the Hall of Fame inductions are now available for $10, available from either Sport P.E.I. at 368-4547, or the Silver Fox Curling and Yacht Club in Summerside.

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