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Kelley
Kelley
Bill Bowerman
Grete Kelley
One of the proudest achievements of his career was making the United States Olympic marathon team in 1936, 1940 and 1948.
Kelley


More than any other person, John A. Kelley, a Massachusetts native who now resides in East Dennis, Mass., embodies the Boston Marathon. Besides winning twice (1935 and 1945), Kelley was runner-up on seven other occasions. Always daring, Kelley preferred to go for victories rather than settle for a conservative finish. In all, he competed in 61 and finished 58 Boston Marathons. In honor of his accomplishments, the "Young at Heart" sculpture, depicting an older Kelley running hand-in-hand with himself as a younger runner, was placed near the base of Heartbreak Hill in 1993.

John Adelbert Kelley, the eldest of 10 children, was born just outside Boston in neighboring West Medford, on September 6, 1907. His family later moved to Arlington where he graduated from high school.

Kelley's career has spanned eight decades and includes New England championships at every distance from three miles and up. On the national level, he was champion 11 times in four events: marathon, 1948 and 1950; 15,000 meters, 1937 and 1954; 20,000 meters, 1943 and 1954; and 25,000 meters in 1937, 1941, 1942, 1943 and 1944. One of the proudest achievements of his career was making the United States Olympic marathon team in 1936, 1940 and 1948. He narrowly missed being chosen for a fourth time in 1952, at the age of 44.

To understand John A. Kelley and his love for running is to understand a man who is even more impressive than all his accomplishments and victories. He is from a different era, a time when athletes trained and worked at their sport out of love and desire to achieve. During the 37 years he labored as an electrical maintenance man with Boston Edison Company, he would train for his racing after putting in a hard day's work. He never earned any money for all his victories, but to him, a man who appreciates the pure aspects of life, he gained much more than monetary wealth.

Kelley


 

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