More history links:
Closest men's finishes
Closest women's finishes
Johnny Kelley (1907-2004)
John Caffrey Again Wins the Marathon Race,
Davis, the Indian, Second; Mellor of Yonkers Third -- Man From Sparta Makes Poor Showing -- Ronald McDonald Collapses After Plucky Race -- Ugly Rumors As To Cause
The Boston Globe, April 20, 1901 Champion J.J. Caffrey of the St. Patrick's A.C. of Hamilton, Ont., again demonstrated his ability as the greatest distance runner in America by winning the annual Marathon run from Ashland to Boston given by the B.A.A. yesterday.
The dapper little Canadian cut a slice off the record last year, but hewed a big block off yesterday and set a mark that will probably stand for years unless he returns and makes it three straight.
He was never worse than second, and then always within reach of his ``towney,'' Hughson, who cut a killing pace for half the 25-mile course.
When Caffrey once took the lead he ran a steady, well-judged race, never showed the flag of distress and was as cheerful at the finish as though he had only done a practice spin.
After getting through with McDonald's record last year, Caffrey's figures stood at 2 h 39m 44 2-5s, but his time yesterday was 2h 29m 23 3-5s, more than 10 minutes faster.
A conservative estimate of those who witnessed the race is placed at 25,000. Once the runners struck the reservoir they ran through a lane of people, which was banked up 20, and in some cases 30, deep as they neared the finish. Several of the runners lost time in getting through the crowd, and in a couple of instances they had to make a detour.
A feature not down on the bills, as the showman says, was the appearance of a young man clad in running togs who ran second to Caffrey all the way in from the reservoir. He slid in from one of the side streets, and completely fooled all the people along the route.
He dropped out again as mysteriously as he entered, and probably would have been in bad odor had the officials unearthed him.
At the corner of Commonwealth av. and Walnut st. about nine miles from the finish, Caffrey was nearly a third of a mile in front of McDonald. McDonald, in turn, was a safe distance ahead of Hughson, overhauling him near Cedar st. at West Newton. The endurance of the Indian [William Davis] was remarkable and he seemed to be growing better the farther he went.
A stern chase of over a mile brought him in view of McDonald, and with determination marked on every feature, Davis started to catch the pride of Cambridge and the hope of all Bostonians. On the crest of the hill overlooking the Chestnut Hill reservoir the copper-skinned athlete crept up on McDonald, but the latter was made instantly aware of the presence of his rival by the Indian warhoops and catcalls which those following the contest gave voice to. Even the solicitations of his friends to shake the pursuer could not enable McDonald to widen the distance between himself and Davis, and as both squared away for the dash down the hill the Mohawk sped past.
The race was now practically all over but the shouting, but even then the dark-visaged Indian-Frenchmen was not content and increased his pace in the hope of catching Caffrey. It was a hopeless chase however, for while the cheers of the vast crowd at the reservoir were still ringing in the ears of the champion, the Indian was a mile behind. Not even the grim determination which Davis exhibited could lessen the distance, and Caffrey romped through the deep fringe of humanity at Coolidge's corner a mile to the good.
It was one continuous reception that the victor received until he was told his journey was ended, and he nimbly jumped into the clubhouse on Exeter st. to be again examined by the corps of physicians and make ready for the street.
No less enthusiastic were the praises showed upon William Davis _ he was cheered long and often.
About a quarter of a mile from the reservoir on the Boston side, McDonald went to pieces, and was finally taken into a carriage and driven home.
The controversy: Pills? Chloroform?
After the race there were ugly rumors that McDonald, the Cambridgeport runner, had been drugged.
John W. Bowler, who trained the Cambridgeport man, said, two hours after the finish of the run, that Dr. Thompson had given some pills to McDonald when he appeared exhausted, and that instead of stimulating the ex-champion they had a directly opposite effect and put him out of the running altogether.
In speaking of the incident Mr. Bowler cited the case of Dave Hall in the New York Marathon run a few years ago, when the Brown university man practically collapsed after being given a pill by an outsider.
Dr. J.S. Thompson of Cambridge stated last evening to a Globe reporter that in his opinion McDonald had been chloroformed.
``Several hours after McDonald reached home,'' said the doctor, ``I could plainly detect traces of chloroform in the sponge which had been used to wipe his face before the collapse. Some of his attendants or some one in the crowd around him had sponged him, and the sponge was tossed into the carriage which brought McDonald home. So I had a chance to examine it.''
``Do you think that if he was really chloroformed it was intentional or an accident?'' the doctor was asked.
``It couldn't well have been an accident when there was so much money up on the race,'' was the reply.