Wildfire transcript

[Lively Music]

[Teacher] Hey you! Stop!

[Teacher] Get back here right now!

[Young Tom] Go back to THAT school? No way!

[Young Tom] You’ll have to catch me, first!

[Young Tom] If I can just make it to my uncle’s house… maybe he will let me stay.

[Knock knock]

[Uncle] Tommy?

[Young Tom] Hi, Uncle.

[Uncle] You run away again?

[Young Tom] Umm...

[Uncle] Well, of course they couldn’t catch you, could they? I’m not going to make you go back there, but you’ll have to help me with the farm work.

[Young Tom] Deal!

[Narrator] Working on the farm helped Tom to grow up strong… And fast!

[Horse galloping]

[Farmhand] Wow! I’ve never seen anyone run like you. You need to enter a race.

[Tom] I came in second in Caledonia!

[Farmhand] Caledonia? C’mon Tommy. Think bigger!

[Narrator] In 1906, Tom entered the 30 kilometer Around the Bay Road Race in Hamilton, Ontario.

[Huff, puff]

[Tom] There’s an intersection ahead... which way do I go?


[Local man] Hey! Wrong way!

[Local woman] Go back that way! You took a wrong turn!

[Tom] Thank you!

[Local woman] Good Luck, Tom!


[Race official] I’m sure this watch is wrong!

[Local man] No, it’s fine. It’s just never timed anyone as fast as Tom Longboat.

[Race official] It’s like watching a wildfire!

[Narrator] The following year, Tom raced in the Boston marathon.

[Boston race official] That’s a new record! 

[Boston local] Longboat didn’t break the old record, he smashed it!

[Boston local 2] I’ll say. By five whole minutes. Unbelievable. 

[Boston race official] He’ll be in his hotel having dinner by the time the rest of the fellows get here.

[Narrator] After a spectacular win in Boston, Tom returned to a hero’s welcome back home.

[Tom] Wow... I can’t believe all of these people are cheering for me!

[Narrator] The mayor of Toronto congratulated Tom and even gave him the key to the city.

[Mayor] Congratulations on your achievement, young man. You’ve made Canada proud. 

[Narrator] Tom travelled to London, England to represent Canada in the 1908 Olympics.

[Tom] Ughhhhhh. What is happening to me?

[Crowd gasps]

[Race official] Heat exhaustion... Quick! He needs help!

[Narrator] Despite the setback in London, Tom kept training, and in 1909 he won the title “Professional Champion of the World”  when he won a race at Madison Square Garden in New York.

[Tom] Thanks, everyone!

[Narrator] In 1916, Tom Longboat enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces as a dispatch runner. In 1917 he was sent to the battlefields of France.

[Commander] Longboat! Take this message to the front line!

[Tom] Yes, sir!


[Tom] Sir! I have a message!

Now... how do I get back?

[grunts] Almost there…

[screaming in pain] Ahhhhh!

[Solider 1] I heard that runner was killed. Longboat. 

[Soldier 2] I heard he was captured.

[Tom] I think you heard wrong. I’ve still got plenty of running left to do!

[Narrator] Tom Longboat was the greatest long-distance runner in the world in the years before the first world war. He died in 1949 back home on the Six Nations Reserve where he was born. In 1979, Toronto named a street after him.

Canada Post put his image on a stamp in 1999, along with his record-breaking Boston Marathon time. He was inducted to the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1955. In 2008, Ontario declared that from then on, June 4 would be known as Tom Longboat day.

[Lively Music]