Occupation: Retired schoolteacher and librarian, local running guru, father of two kids.
Bio: This eloquent and knowledgeable fella was born in Calvert, went to high school in Ferryland and moved to St. John’s in grade twelve. He ran his first marathon (that’s 42.195 kilometers) when he was a nineteen year old student at MUN and continued to run competitively. To date, he has run about 45 marathons. (That’s 1898.775 kilometers. Jesus.) On July 27th, he will be running his 36th Tely 10. Five years ago he became a trainer for the Joints in Motion Tely 10 Team, through the Arthritis Society, and has been organizing his own training groups and clinics for both the Tely and marathons ever since. He also wrote the go-to guide for the Tely called, aptly, The Tely 10 and was chair of the race’s organizing committee for 11 years.
You ran the Tely 10 in a tux last year, to commemorate your 35th Tely. Did you keel over?: “No, no! But we made the national news that night! I’ve run the Honolulu marathon and saw someone dressed as Santa Claus….in Dublin, I saw someone dressed as a big green phone. I guess he was a mobile phone.”
What is your favorite marathon?: “Oh, Boston, but I ran the original marathon course in Athens. It was very moving for me, very inspiring. I know how the marathon began with Pheidippides running twenty five miles from the Battle of Marathon to Athens, yelling ‘Rejoice, we conquered!’ and immediately dropping dead. This is where the whole marathon race began and I got this great sense of history.”
What is the big deal about the Boston marathon, anyways?: “It is the oldest marathon in the world, started in 1896. I’ve been fortunate enough to qualify eight times!”
A few fast facts from Joe: The largest Tely 10 race to date was last year’s with about 2220 runners. Joe has run it in years where there were only 10 or 15 runners. The first Tely 10 was in 1922 and the first year that women participated was 1969. The first year that women participated in the Boston marathon was 1967.
Words of wisdom: “All hills are flat.”
— Sarah Smellie