National Distance Running Hall of Fame
utica, NY
About Hall of Fame
Inductees
Charter Members
Hall of Fame Race
News Room
Racing Roster
Membership
Contact Info
Related Links
Home
Kelley
Kelley
Bill Bowerman
John J. Kelley
He was the U.S. National Marathon Champion eight straight times, from 1956 to 1963. As a schoolboy in New London, Connecticut, he was named top schoolboy miler in the country after running a 4:21.8 mile in 1950.
Kelley


"No one knows what the marathoner is thinking out there. It’s like a Zen thing. To the marathoner, the mantra is the rhythm of the run."

-- John J. Kelley,
Hall of Fame Inductee, 2002

A two-time Olympian, "Johnny" Kelley was a five-time second-place finisher in the Boston Marathon but it was his lone victory in 1957 that many say marked the beginning of putting American distance runners on the map, and also, perhaps, the Boston Marathon itself. According to the Boston race’s chief architect Jock Semple: "It was a long road from our marathons in the 1930's to [Frank] Shorter’s Olympic win in 1972, but I look at Johnny’s 1957 Boston run as the pivotal event for the American marathon. I see 1957 as the halfway point."

But Kelley was more than just one race. He was the U.S. National Marathon Champion eight straight times, from 1956 to 1963, when it was held in Yonkers, New York. As a schoolboy in New London, Connecticut, he was named top schoolboy miler in the country after running a 4:21.8 mile in 1950. But when he went off to college, he found that the coaches put you where they needed the points, and right from the start Kelley began stretching out his distances. As a freshman at Boston University he went undefeated in seven cross-country meets, setting records on five different courses. He competed in the marathon in both the Melbourne Olympics in 1956 and in Rome in 1960. In 1959 he won the Pan American Games Marathon.

"Young John should be given more credit for creating a line of college runners in America that starts with himself and goes right up through Buddy Edelen to Amby Burfoot, Kenny Moore, Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, Craig Virgin and all the rest yet to come," said Semple in his book Just Call Me Jock. "Before Johnny there was none of that. There were only us plodders."

Kelley

 

John J Kelley Movie



 

Copyright © 2010 National Distance Running Hall of Fame. All rights reserved.
Any other trademarks and copyrights used are the property of their respective owners.
Web hosting by BONDARTECH