Joe Smith winner Boston Athletic Association 1941
... and Yonkers NY Marathon National Championship
from Isabel Smith
Marathon Monday will always be special to Medford Milkman Joe Smith who captured the Boston Marathon (BAA) title as a member of the North Medford Club.
The day of the BAA Marathon - 1942, the photographers were sprawled all over Exeter Street, courtesy of the World Record Performance; 2 hours, 26 minutes, 51 seconds of Joe Smith, the Milkman from Medford. Joe was the tallest of all the winners, 6 feet 2 inches. He said, "When I came around the corner, I wanted to see my wife Isabel at the finish line."
I was with friends who came to the race and as I came to the finish line I could not believe the noise the crowd made, hollering, "Joe Smith, Joe Smith" over and over. Then to see him win and break the world record, I will never forget it.
He crashed into the photographers and knocked down all of them.
It was a Marathoner's dream. It dawned windless and cloudy with a temperature of 44 degrees. Smith's condition was not ideal. He had awakened flu-ridden and wasn't going to run. I talked him into it.
Actually, I sounded his marching orders "You've got to run. After all that training and for your team mates at the North Medford Track Club." My prodding succeeded and Joe Smith did run.
Joe was a six-day per week Hood's Milkman, running the route making deliveries at night. He became interested in running at age 25, back in 1939. One day he went out to see how far he could run and ran 19 miles. He couldn't walk for a week.
Joe declared his success in the sport to his coach and friend, Fred Brown of the North Medford Track Club. "He taught me everything I knew about running," he said.
Under Brown's tutelage, Joe trained 3 times a week with his workout of 35 miles. The bulk of the work was on Sunday when he and Brown would take 3 hour nonstop jaunts through the Medford Woods.
Three years later he won the 1941 Yonkers, N.Y. Marathon and his title was National Marathon Champion.
He was to be an alternate in the Olympics, but World War II came along and he entered the service to help in the war effort. Smith volunteered for the Coast Guard, put his running career on hold and served 38 months.
Later Joe was asked what he got for winning. A laurel, a medal, a bowl of beef stew and a lot of publicity.
Joe died Jan 25, 1993 at age 79.
May 7, 2004