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Saturday, April 13, 2019

Marathon Magic: The Story of Bricklayer Bill Kennedy, winner of 1917 Boston Marathon

Bricklayer Bill: The Untold Story of the Workingman's Boston Marathon 

The Boston Marathon is filled with iconic characters like John J. McDermott, who won the first contest in 1897, and Johnny Kelley, who finished the race 58 times. 

Equally notable is "Bricklayer Bill" Kennedy, a working class Irish-American who was part of the amateur running caste in America before the sport turned professional. 

Co-authors Patrick and Lawrence Kennedy have written Bricklayer Bill: The Untold Story of the Workingman's Boston Marathon.  It's an engaging, dramatic story about their famous ancestor,  with a Foreword by running legend Bill Rogers. 

Bricklayer Bill won the 1917 Marathon, two weeks after the U.S. entered World War I. Boston Harbor was on full alert for German submarines lurking off shore.  Despite calls to cancel the race, Kennedy insisted on running, sporting a bright stars and stripes bandana on his head. He won the race and became an instant hero, his picture splashed across newspapers around the world. 

The authors write that Kennedy "tapped into the zeitgeist not only of that moment in but also of that place – a proud but nerve-wracked city that needed a win on a grand stage."

The book is available from the University of Massachusetts Press. 

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