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Apr 13 , 2018


Catching up with ol' Joe Murray

by editor
Dear Frank,
Re: Marathon Men, by Doug Saunders, Frank 789
Your scribblings about Joe Murray, the wildeyed old codger from Parrsboro who needed a half-ton truck to finish the maiden Johnny Miles Marathon in 1975 sent me scrambling to my computer to do more research on this colourful chap.
It wasn’t long before I stumbled upon a pair of articles authored by two men — written in the months and years immediately following the race — who apparently hadn’t been informed of old Joe’s wily ways.
Both accounts appeared in the Nova Scotia Medical Bulletin, the Medical Association of Nova Scotia’s official organ.
The first, penned by Truro’s Dr. J.C. Vibert (yes, he’s your friend Jim Vibert’s dad) just a few months after the race spoke of how 61-year-old Joe appeared to be an “outstanding witness to the idea that fitness delays aging.”
Doc Vibert continued: “After the marathon when most of the young runners were lying about exhausted Joe was chatting away and signing autographs and generally exuding enthusiasm and energy.”
And then in 1978, we have a lengthier, first-person account of the race from Dr. Barry Wheeler, also of Truro.
Joe was the “phenomenon of the race,” writes Doc Barry, who would go on to found the Hubtown Fun Run in later years.
While Doug Saunders writes that a pair of eyewitness reports had Joe being picked up by motorized conveyance about five miles into the race and dropped off just a few miles from the finish line, fellow marathon participant Dr. Barry writes that he “caught up with Joe... who was beginning to have some trouble with his legs,” at about the 15-mile mark.
“Joe had not managed to get in as much winter training as usual and actually had to walk for a little while after I passed him. He told me later that a police car tried to give him a ride several times, but being who he is he eventually got running again.”
Although old Joe’s truck-ride might have been a bit shorter than your scribe’s eyewitnesses believed, that doesn’t it any less fraudulent.
Mara Thonner,

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