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What did you do on Christmas Day?

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)


PC 142

Mission Hill, up which they ran

Postcards from the Past, PC 142

Christmas day is usually a time for family and friends. Some folks volunteer to serve dinner to those who are less fortunate. But how many of you ran a marathon? In Calgary, starting in 1906, the Calgary Herald ran a road race outdoors on Christmas day. The 1906 event was led by Cappy Smart, the fire chief, who was described as “no mean athlete.” And for every year following, except the year he was in hospital due to an automobile accident, he started the race by firing his pistol. The dates of the race changed over the years, but in 1911, it was run on Christmas day. The race started and finished at the Herald offices and ran up Mission Hill and under two of the ‘subways’ under the railway tracks. It was won by Alex Hepburn- a recent immigrant from Scotland- who ran the 6 mile plus race in 34 minutes 57 ½ seconds.


Map of Calgary Herald Road Race

Map of the 1911 Calgary Herald Road Race

From the Calgary Herald December 23, 1911

This was a very big deal, with competitors coming from all around the country. It was also another way for Calgarians to beat Edmontonians at something or other. It was started by the publisher and editor of the Calgary Herald, J. J. Young, to prove that such races could be run in Calgary during the winter. I have read accounts of baseball games being played in January in Calgary (with the comment that a nice breeze kept the day from getting too hot) but all of us who live here know that it can be either extreme. And so it was in 1937 when a cold snap forced the cancellation of the event. From '38 tyo '40 it was held on Remembrance day and in 1941 it was moved to Thanksgiving. It's last run was in 1950 but in 1970 the race was revived and run at Heritage Park in July. Are we getting softer?

Anyway, I did not perform any athletic feats on Christmas day, unless eating is a sport. Here's looking at 2012 - our centennial year.


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