Penobscots to commemorate Sockalexis | News

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Penobscots to commemorate Sockalexis

Indian Island, ME (NEWS CENTER)-- On April 19, 1912, Andrew Sockalexis of Indian Island finished second in the Boston Marathon. Now three representatives of the Penobscots are running to commemorate Sockalexis' achievement and to raise money for Penobscot River restoration.

Sockalexis was just 21 years old when he made his dramatic effort at Boston.  He hoped to be among the top ten finishers who would all qualify for the Olympics.  Author Ed Rice, who has run Boston eight times said that Sockalexis ran in about tenth place for more than 20 miles when he made a dash for the top.

"They're only a couple of miles away (from the finish) when Andrew actually takes the lead.  He's already passed all the guys who have been written up in the newspapers and he's going for it.  He's going for it and all of a sudden here comes Mike Ryan who challenges, passes him and beats him to the finish line." Rice reports that Ryan set a new course record of 2:21:18 with Sockalexis 34 seconds behind.

To commemorate the centenary of Sockalexis' accomplishment, Barry Dana, Dale Lolar and Bob Bryant have formed Team Penobscot and will run Boston this year.  Under the auspices of the Nature Conservancy, they are raising money for Penobscot River restoration.  The Nature Conservancy is part of an historic coalition which attempting to restore the Penobscot.

Sockalexis was among ten Americans who qualified for the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden.  He finished fourth in that race, again running from off the pace.

In 1913, he returned to Boston and again finished second.

Historians disagree about when Sockalexis contracted TB.  Rice thinks it was in 1913.  Soon after, Sock turned to professional running.  In 1916, he defeated his former Olympic teammate, the legendary Clarence DeMar in a 15 miler between Bangor and Old Town.  After Sockalexis finished, he began coughing up blood.

He died in 1919, at the age of 28.  He is buried on Indian Island where, a century later, Team Penobscot trains to commemorate the great Andrew Sockalexis.

Andrew Sockalexis was the second cousin of former Major League baseball player Louis Sockalexis for whom, many believe, the Cleveland Indians were named.