Full name: Andrew Sockalexis
Height: 5'9" (175 cm)
Weight: 146 lbs (66 kg)
Born: January 11, 1891 in Old Town, Maine, United States
Died: August 16, 1919 in Oxford, Maine, United States
Affiliations: Bangor, Maine
Country: United States
Raised in Maine, Andrew Sockalexis was a member of the Penobscot Indian Tribe, a grandson of the Chief of the influential Bear Clan. Little is known of his early life, but he settled near Boston by 1911 and joined the North Dorchester Athletic Association, where he excelled as a long-distance runner, despite his relatively large size (for the era) of 5-9 and 145 lbs. Like many Indian athletes of the era, he attended the Carlisle Indian School, where he ran on the track team. Sockalexis made his first appearance as a marathon runner in 1911, when he ran the Boston Marathon, finishing 17th.
In 1912, Sockalexis had improved and hoped to win Boston. But running in ice and mud, he lagged behind the early pace, only to take the lead a few miles from the finish. However, he was caught by Mike Ryan, who bettered Sockalexis's time of 2-21:52 by about 34 seconds, but the second-place finish was sufficient to qualify him for the 1912 U.S. Olympic team. At Stockholm, Sockalexis again started out slowly. His fast finish earned him 4th place, as he finished in 2-42:07.9, just missing out on a medal, slightly over five minutes behind the winner, Kennedy McArthur of South Africa.
Returning to the United States, Sockalexis made headlines prior to the 1913 Boston Marathon. The Boston Evening Transcript described his dilemma in the headline "Win, or Lose Her Hand". His fiancé, Pauline Shay, also a Penobscot, had told him that he had to win Boston before she would marry him. Unfortunately, Sockalexis continued his race plan of starting out slowly and finishing strong, and once again, it was not quite enough. He placed second for the second consecutive year, this time in 2-27:12, two minutes behind the Swedish Olympian, Fritz Carlson. Despite the loss, Ms. Shay still married him. He never ran the Boston Marathon again, and no further record of his athletic career exists.
Sockalexis is still remembered in his native land. The Penobscot Tribe sponsors an annual Andrew Sockalexis 5 Kilometre Road Run in his honor. In April 2000, Andrew Sockalexis was inducted into the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame along with his brother, Louis. He and Louis were also inducted as charter members of the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969. His brother has actually achieved more lasting sporting fame. An excellent baseball player, Louis Francis Sockalexis played for three years in the major leagues (1897-1899) with the team then named the Cleveland Spiders. Legend has it that 20 years later the team was renamed in Louis Sockalexis's honor as the Cleveland Indians, but this is now considered controversial.
Personal Best: Mar – 2-21:53 (1912).
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