boston.com Sports Sportsin partnership with NESN your connection to The Boston Globe
Boston Marathon history




More history links:
 History index
 Past champions
 Records
 Closest men's finishes
 Closest women's finishes
 Johnny Kelley (1907-2004)
  1924
DeMar Sets New World's Record

Saturday, April 19, 12:00 p.m.

Results:Time:
1. Clarence DeMar, Dorchester, MA 2:29:40
2. Chuck Mellor, Chicago, IL 2:35:04
3. Frank Wendling, New York 2:37:40
4. Billy Churchill, California 2:37:52
5. C. Linder, Boston, MA 2:40:12

Bostonians held their heads high in 1924 as the Olympic team once again chose the Boston Marathon as a trial for the upcoming Olympic games in Paris, France.

It was also a year in which the length of the course was lengthened to 26 miles and 365 yards, a length based upon the distance from Windsor Castle to the Olympic Stadium in London and chosen as a marathon standard from 1908 to present day.

DeMar, who had won the race in successive years, set a new record of winning the Marathon three years in a row, breaking Jack Caffrey's record. Not only did DeMar easily win the Boston Marathon, but he smashed the world record of the new course, securing him a spot in that summer's Olympic games in Paris.

From the Boston Globe, Sunday, April 20, 1924

WONDER MAN DEMAR WINS MARATHON IN RECORD TIME
Melrose Flyer Scores Fourth Victory in Big B.A.A. Race, His Third in Three Years--Covers Course in 2 Hrs, 29 Min, 40 1-5 Sec.
Mellor, Far Behind, Second With Wendling Third and Coast Star Churchill Next

The lead:

When history of Marathon running is written for the future generations, the name of Clarence H. De Mar of the Melrose Post 90, American Legion, will be emblazoned on its pages as the greatest of all men who have sought honors as a long-distance plodder.

The race:

He (DeMar) took on a new lease of life and started away like mad. As he swung around the corner of Commonwealth av on to Chestnut Hill av, he had to put his hand out to prevent striking a member of the constabulary who was brushing the crowd back. DeMar raced down the stretch to the circle at the end of Beacon st. The great runner knew no let up. He had no sooner gotten on to Beacon st than a dog rushed out and ran close to the winner.

He almost got tangled in the athlete's feet but was shooed away. The path was much freer to the finish and DeMar was given a great reception. He ran like a thoroughbred, never faltered and the thousands who flocked the roadsides looked on in amazement at the pace he was maintaining.

He could not be beaten, and then the question came as to how fast he would cover the course. He finished amid wild cheering, in the sensational time of 2 hours, 29 minutes 40 1-5 seconds, a new world's record for 26 miles 386 yards.

The Globe car:

Through the courtesy of Manager E.R. Parker of the Chandler-Cleveland Company, the Globe writers and photographers covered the Marathon in one of the Chandler touring cars. With its new traffic transmission the car was able to slip through traffic, pick in quickly, stop short, slow down to a few miles an hour or speed up, so the Globe men could cover all phases of the race.

The winner:

Clarence H. De Mar, Sunday school teacher, iron man of Marathoners, has been running since he was 7 years of age. Yesterday afternoon, he broke the worsted in front of the B.A.A. on Exeter st and established a world's record for 26 miles, 385 yards, the elongated course which conforms to the Olympic standard.

De Mar is in his 37th year, which gave him just 30 years to practice in in order to put over the greatest feat of his life yesterday. Yesterday's was his fourth win.

He was born in Madeira, O, of French and German ancestry. At 7 years of age he began attendance at a school which was more than a mile from his home. He ran the distance at a dog trot twice a day. His father died when he was 8. Young De Mar took it upon himself to peddle small articles through the neighboring towns in order to help out his mother in the support of five younger brothers and sisters.

Between calls upon customers, young De Mar dog-trotted all day, every day, for several years. He came East with his mother and brothers and sisters when he was 10 and was admitted to the Farm and Trades School on Thompson's Island. He worked hard there and kept up his running during a course he took at the University of Vermont.

The homecoming:

"Say, what yer got for supper, Ma?", boyish Clarence Harrison De Mar, Marathon whirlwind, asked his mother as they entered their modest home in Union st at 6 o'clock after a glorious day.

"Well, I reckon the roast of lamb must be about done by now; and there's potatoes and sweet corn--and apple pie and cheese for dessert. You're off training for awhile, now, and can eat a cut of pie, I guess," Mrs De Mar answered. And then she went straightway down to the kitchen oven, to see about that lamb banquet.