The Man Who Ran Faster Than Everyone by Jack Batten, paperback, 112 pages, Tundra Books (2002), ISBN: 0613773179
Tom Longboat was a hero. He raced against poverty, rumors and prejudice, and won. Part sports history, part biography, and part social history, "The Man Who Ran Faster Than Everyone" is an engrossing story about one of Canada's running stars. Tom Longboat, a member of the Onondaga Nation, was born on June 4, 1887, in a log house on the Six Nations reserve in Oshwegen, near Brantford in Ontario. Despite his status and poor training, Longboat went on to become one of the world's best runners. In 1907 he won the "Boston Marathon" and ran in the 1908 Olympic marathon. Longboat was one of the best-known people of his day, and certainly the most prominent member of the Six Nations. Throughout his career he had to race against opponents, as well as rumors of illegal running activities. Nevertheless, he maintained his dignity, and his achievements still inspire people who understand the great pleasure of running, and running fast. In 1907 Tom Longboat was at the top of his game, and today his story is still poignant. His career coincided with a period when marathon running was, remarkably, a hugely popular spectator sport. Crowds of thousands paid to sit for three hours in Madison Square Garden or the Toronto Island Stadium to watch two runners go round and round the quarter-mile track 104 times in a 26-mile race. Mistery and intrigue went with Longboat's career: there were rumors of performance enhancing drugs even then, a century ago; there were "agents" who tried to swindle Longboat out of his earnings; and there was the fact that Longboat was a Native American, a fact that the press had some difficulty with. Tom Longboat's story touches many bases: It is a sports story with a share of heroism, a dash of tragedy, and a good dose of social history. The tale of how Tom Longboat became one of the world's fastest runners is deflty handled by well-known author, journalist, reviewer and radio personality Jack Batten. Batten has written 30 books on subjects that include biography, crime fiction, law and court cases, and sports. For "The Man Who Ran Faster Than Everyone" Batten has won the Fleck Award for non-fiction, the biggest prize in Canadian children's literature.