The 1908 Olympic marathon is best remembered for the disqualification of Dorando Pietri, but this does less than justice to Johnny Hayes, who finished unaided only half a minute behind the Italian. Johnny Hayes was born in America soon after his parents emigrated from Ireland. He first took up running in 1905 and his initial success came when he took third place in the 1907 Boston Marathon. Later in the season he won the Yonkers Marathon then, by finishing second in the 1908 Boston race, Hayes won a spot on the Olympic team. After his Olympic victory, Hayes paid a brief visit to his grandparents in Ireland and then returned to New York where Bloomingdale’s had plastered their department store with photographs of Hayes and announced that their employee, who had been rumored to train on the store track on the roof, had been promoted to manager of sporting goods. Years later, Hayes laid to rest this oft-repeated bit of Olympic lore. He never did actually work at Bloomingdale’s, or train on the roof. He drew a salary from Bloomingdale’s but most of his time was spent training at a track outside Manhattan. Hayes turned pro upon his return to America and four times met, and lost to, Dorando Pietri in professional marathon races. In 1912, Hayes coached the U.S. Olympic marathoners and later was cross-country coach at Columbia. After a brief spell as a vaudeville artist, Johnny Hayes settled in New York for a business career and became a successful food broker.
Personal Best: Mar – 2-26:04 (1908).