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 My Grandfather's Medal
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mfishco

4 Posts

Posted - December 20 2012 :  16:50:25  Show Profile
Hello,

I'm a Denver resident but my family has deep roots in Buffalo. I recently ran my first marathon at age 42 and when speaking about it with my father on the evening prior to the race he recalled that he had a race medal from 1926 that belonged to his father, my grandfather. I carried a picture of it with me on race day and it was really inspirational and an amazing connection to my past that helped me finish the race.

I am writing to see if anyone on this forum might know anything more about the race my grandfather ran. I am putting a couple of links to the photos of the medal on this post. If anyone who knows any Buffalo race history feels like taking a look and sharing any insight they have into what kind of race this was I would love to learn more about it. Seems like a long shot, but if anyone would know, perhaps this is the group.

Here are the links:

https://docs.google.com/open?id=0ByW7XecMA-qFbGVKWVpROS10YXM
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0ByW7XecMA-qFdUFkQmZrQ0lBVk0

Thanks in advance for anyone who takes the time to check them out and let me know what they think. Have a great day!

Mitch Fish

Jeff

635 Posts

Posted - December 20 2012 :  23:19:46  Show Profile
Mitch - thanks for sharing these images. This is a very intriguing discovery! The medal front has one of the vintage YMCA logos and the city "Buffalo" on it. There probably was not an abundance of races in '26...

Could it be that your grandfather might be one of the early winners of the Turkey Trot? That would be huge!

Anyone have access to the 116 year list of race the JY Cameron YMCA Turkey Trot winners?

JJ


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JR

237 Posts

Posted - December 21 2012 :  06:31:31  Show Profile
If it's from the old Turkey Trot, perhaps a search through the old Buffalo Evening News or Courier-Express archives at the Central Library would yield an answer.
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Npage148

152 Posts

Posted - December 21 2012 :  11:30:56  Show Profile
Well, sadly it's probably not from the turkey trot
http://www.arrs.net/HP_CamTT8.htm
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mfishco

4 Posts

Posted - December 21 2012 :  15:50:04  Show Profile
Well, it might not be the Turkey Trot, but I didn't know that was an old YMCA logo http://www.ymca.net/news-media/y-logo-history.pdf so that's news to us and a step in the right directon. Thanks!

Mitch
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Jeff

635 Posts

Posted - December 21 2012 :  18:13:17  Show Profile
Nate, thanks for sharing the TT History file! That's the one!

Mitch, It sure looks like a "1926" on the back of the medal, but I wonder if it might actually be a "1928"? We've got a gaping hole in the TT history for that year.

JJ
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SonOfRoxy

476 Posts

Posted - December 22 2012 :  20:18:40  Show Profile
Does no one else place any significance on the words "Cross country run" imprinted on the medal? I'm betting that it was a cross country race.
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Admin

241 Posts

Posted - December 22 2012 :  22:35:36  Show Profile
Good question, Dave.

This was circa 1926. The TT started out as a Cross Country event.

Here's a quote from today's Turkey Trot web site:
quote:
In 1896, Henry A. Allison was among six runners competing in a five mile cross country race that stretched along routes that have long since been reconstructed in the downtown Buffalo, New York area. Little did Allison know he would become the first winner of the Turkey Trot, a race that would long outlive him. During those early days, runners paced along rugged dirt roads. It wasn't until the mid-1900s that the Turkey Trot was actually run on pavement.



That's why we should not rule TT out on the basis of of the phrase "Cross Country". It actually might raise the probability.

JJ
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mfishco

4 Posts

Posted - December 23 2012 :  13:03:50  Show Profile
This is Mitch. It will be a few days before my parents are back home and can confirm the date on the back of the medal but if it was 1928 instead of 1926 would indeed open the door to possibly filling in a hole in the records. I'l report back as soon as I can on that.

It occurred to me that perhaps there were different medals given out for different age brackets. We think he was born in 1909. Our best information was that he was three years old when he emigrated to America in 1911. If the race was in 1926, that would make him about 17 or 18 at the time of the race. Perhaps a junior age bracket?

I don't know much about the TT but if it is like a lot of modern races there would be more than one medal given out. Does anyone have any idea if that could be the case here?
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Admin

241 Posts

Posted - December 24 2012 :  17:43:18  Show Profile
As a fun exercise we ventured to the central library to see if we could find out a little more about runner Hyman Fish. And, to hopefully dig up any old newspaper coverage of Buffalo’s 1926 Turkey Trot, held on Thursday November 25, 1926.

We had some success. It’s on microfiche. Hyman Fish was there!

IN November 1926, the Courier-Express had recently formed as a union of two of Buffalo’s big newspapers. The new publication was a major sponsor of the “classic” annual YMCA Cross Country race. The paper offered the “Courier-Express Trophy” to the runner winning the handicapped race. There were also awards and recognition for the “Time” prize, which went to the runner with the fastest time from “scratch”, and there was an award for the first runner to reach Utica St.

The overall winner was Wilfred McCluskey from Toronto. McCluskey won the Courier-Express trophy in a time of 29:57. “L. Gregorie” of St. Bonaventure University earned the “Time Race” victory with a scratch clocking of of 29:06. Gregorie’s handicapped time was 30:24, good for 6th place in the main event.

The race was still considered cross country in 1926. It’s official title was reported as: “The Central YMCA’s 29th Annual Thanksgiving Day Cross Country Run”.

A complete list of the 46 official finishers graces the front page of the Sports Section! I’d post it here but the microfiche created a very difficult to read copy. It’s no wonder these wonderful newspaper pages have yet to be digitized. It will be a Herculean task to do so – most OCR software will balk at much of what has been preserved on film.

The exciting news… our man, “H. Fish”, is among the top official finishers. Hyman Fish captured the coveted 10th place in a time of 32:10. Fish was representing the Diamond Athletic Club.

The distance is reported as 6 miles. There was some controversy in this race too, and Hyman Fish was affected by it!

The author of the unsigned Courier-Express sports article asserts:

quote:
“A rather deplorable incident happened when A. Liberatore, running unattached, fell when within 100 yards of the finish line. Before he could regain his feet several spectators rushed to his assistance and lifted him to his feet, immediately disqualifying him, although through no fault of his own. This prevented him from receiving the 10th place prize and also the special medal for being the first runner to reach Delaware and Utica.”


So, we know there was an award for 10th place, and it went to Hyman Fish, as a consequence of the assistance mishap. The “1st to Reach Utica” award went to overall winner McCluskey.

Therefore, although it is not a certainty, my guess is that the grand father's medal that Mitch Fish shared is for the 10th Place overall finish in the main event, the handicap race, of the 29th Annual Buffalo Turkey Trot – the oldest consecutively run foot race in North America.

Hyman Fish was born on September 29, 1909, so he would have been a young 17 at the time of the 1926 race. I wonder… Did an older and possibly much stronger H. Fish tackle the Turkey Trot at a later date?


Jeff John


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mfishco

4 Posts

Posted - December 24 2012 :  18:58:58  Show Profile
Well this is an unbelievably generous effort by Jeff and more than I could reasonably expect. I'm so thankful that you went to the trouble and found some really interesting information!

Since my Grandfather's medal says "won" by Hyman Fish I wonder if the results in Courier-Express mentioned what category he might have won?

I'm not the only one who is excited about finidng out more about this 90 year old race. My uncle Sydney Fish who still lives in Buffalo is planning on talking with some people he knows at the Y, show them the medal and see if there is anything more to be learned there.

Do we know how long the race was? I think it was five miles and change. If so, I'm really impressed with his time!

I'll report back on what my Uncle learns. You folks have gone above and beyond for me so far. I couldn't be more appreciative. I might have to try to get a number of my own in the TT one year!

Mitch
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Jeff

635 Posts

Posted - December 24 2012 :  19:58:38  Show Profile
It was our pleasure, Mitch! Thanks for using the Forum.

The stated distance for the '26 race was 6 miles. Of course, due to the then world class times posted, this is unlikely. It would be nice to get a better grasp on the exact distance so we could get a clue about just how fast these men were.

This is a good poster-child for the need for Certified Courses. The world record for the 10K back in 1926 was held by the great Paavo Nurmi. It was 30:06 (roughly equivalent to 29:03 for 6 miles).

I'm confused by the handicap process here. It's either over my head or there are discrepancies in the article and/or in the results table. It is not clear to me whether the handicap time needs to be added or subtracted from the "official time" to get the scratch time. They appear to report it both ways. Worse yet (I think), there is no way to construct the official finish order from the posted times (because the posted times as is, or plus or minus the handicap do not yield the finish order presented).

Hyman Fish's assigned "handicap" in 1926 was over 3 minutes. I can not decipher the seconds column. The issue is complicated by a nasty vertical smudge on the newspaper page obscuring most of the handicap seconds column values.

It was fun to see a little about how running sports were reported 86 years ago. The 1926 race was the top front page sports section story.

Anyone know how the vintage Turkey Trot's handicap system was supposed to work? And how did a handicap get assigned?

JJ
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mcgoo

374 Posts

Posted - December 25 2012 :  20:50:24  Show Profile
This is absolutely incredible stuff! This is just one reason why buffalorunners.com (and Jeff and "staff") is/are head and shoulders above many, if not all, similar running websites.

Thanks to mfishco for starting this and Jeff for following up. Great, great stuff for students of the sport, and more....
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Shalily

11 Posts

Posted - December 25 2012 :  23:19:19  Show Profile
Hi All ! I did a little digging to see if I could find some related history. Based upon the link below, I found a runner by the last name Fish running for Dartmouth. Not sure if It is related, but thought I would share non-the-less.

http://dspace.library.cornell.edu/bitstream/1813/26820/1/029_08.pdf

(Artcle is listed as Harriers beat Dartmouth. Search for name "Fish")
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plpjap

129 Posts

Posted - December 26 2012 :  07:53:38  Show Profile
I tried to find old results but only succeeded back thru 1981. If you click on the date, the results come up -

http://www.ymcabuffaloniagara.org/trot/trotresults.html
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SonOfRoxy

476 Posts

Posted - December 26 2012 :  20:27:19  Show Profile
This is really interesting stuff. Thanks, Jeff!
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