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Profiles
 
John Adelbert Kelley
(The Elder)
(1907-2004)

1935 and 1945 Boston Marathon Champion. Two time Olympian ('36, '48). Second place finisher in Boston seven times. Competed in a record 61 Boston Marathons.

Johnny was born on September 6, 1907 in West Medford, Massachusetts, one of ten children.  He ran track and cross-country at Arlington High School in Massachusetts.  His PR for the mile is around 4:40, set in high school.  He dropped out of his first marathon and DNF'd his first Boston Marathon in 1928, but he had success at shorter races at the time.

A legend of the marathon, Johnny Kelley made his mark as a true endurance athlete.  In the seventeen years from 1934  to 1950, he finished in the top five 15 times at Boston, consistently running in the 2:30s.  He ran his last Boston in 1992 at the age of 84, his 61st start and his 58th finish.  Johnny has also run the Yonkers Marathon 29 times.


The Olympics

Johnny was a member of the U.S. Olympic Team that attended the Berlin Games of 1936.  He finished 18th in the marathon, never really in contention for a medal.  A highlight of the games for Johnny was meeting the legendary Greek runner Spiridon Louis, the winner of the marathon in the first modern Olympic Games, held in Athens in 1896.  Louis died a few years later.
A postcard from the Berlin Olympics
.

In 1940 Johnny made the U.S. Olympic Team, but due to Hitler's invasion of Norway the games were cancelled.

In the1948 Olympic Games in London, on a course rumored to be long, Johnny ran the marathon in 2:51:56.  He finished 21st at age 40.


Johnny toured the 1995 Boston Marathon course as Grand Marshal.

Johnny running the 1995
Falmouth Roadrace.(Age 87)

Running Past Photos


Johnny's Boston Marathon Record      Born September 6, 1907
Year
Time
Place
Year
Time
Place
Year
Time
Place
1928
DNF
1952
3:04:59
12
1973
3:35:02
1105
1932
DNF
1953
2:32:46
7
1974
3:24:10
1266
1933
3:03:56
37
1954
2:50:25
16
1975
3:22:48
1633
1934
2:36:50
2
1955
2:45:22
24
1976
3:28:00
1094
1935
2:37:07
1
1956
DNF
1977
3:32:12
1892
1936
2:38:49
5
1957
2:53:00
13
1978
3:42:36
3729
1937
2:39:02
2
1958
2:52:12
9
1979
3:45:12
3577
1938
2:37:34
3
1959
2:47:52
23
1980
3:35:21
3444
1939
2:41:03
13
1960
2:44:39
19
1981
4:01:25
5074
1940
2:32:03
2
1961
2:44:53
17
1982
4:01:30
NA
1941
2:31:26
2
1962
2:44:36
25
1983
4:23:22
NA
1942
2:37:55
5
1963
3:14:00
84
1984
Sub 5:00
NA
1943
2:30:00
2
1964
2:49:14
48
1985
4:31:00
NA
1944
2:32:03
2
1965
2:48:00
58
1986
4:27:00
NA
1945
2:30:40
1
1966
2:55:00
59
1987
4:19:56
NA
1946
2:31:27
2
1967
3:13:00
135
1988
4:26:36
NA
1947
2:40:00
13
1968
Injured
1989
5:05:15
NA
1948
2:37:50
4
1969
3:05:02
186
1990
5:05:00
NA
1949
2:38:07
4
1970
3:03:00
163
1991
5:42:54
NA
1950
2:43:45
5
1971
3:45:47
977
1992
5:58:00
NA Age 84
1951
2:39:09
6
1972
3:35:12
890

Click here to view an autographed lithograph featuring Johnny Kelley.

Painting Johnny's portrait for Marathon & Beyond Magazine


Other Profiles

Horace Ashenfelter

Amby Burfoot

Johnny Hayes

Frank Hart

Johnny A. Kelley (The Elder)

Johnny J. Kelley (The Younger)
Johnny running for BU

Billy Mills

Bill Rodgers

Emil Zátopek

Marathon Artist
Andrew Yelenakportfolio


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