The Lou Marsh Legacy - Honouring Canada's Top Athletes

Bruce Kidd

Track & Field

1961


Photo of Bruce Kidd running at the Boston Knights of Columbus race.

Photo of Bruce Kidd running at the Boston Knights of Columbus race.

Date
1961
Collection
Canada's Sports Hall of Fame

Bruce Kidd - 1961

“Until 10:30 p.m. last Saturday night the Massachusetts Knights of Columbus indoor track meet at Boston Garden had been nothing more than the routine opening of the eastern indoor season. Then, suddenly, a 17-year-old Toronto high school senior named Bruce Kidd put on a display in the two-mile run that brought the spectators out of their seats screaming. The indoor season discovered its first real hero when Kidd won the 22-lap race in the remarkable time of 8:49.2. Never in track history, indoors or out, has anyone so young run so far so fast.” Brown, Gwilym. (1961, January 23). How Young Kidd Made Good. Sports Illustrated, p. 11.

That victory at the Knights of Columbus track meet at a packed Boston Garden, was one incredible introduction to Bruce Kidd. It launched him into instant national celebrity and paved the way for a remarkable life experience that interconnected all of his life ambitions.

That race almost did not happen. Bruce had been courted by Harvard to come and write entrance examinations. While there, The K of C race director entered him into the one-mile event. Bruce was stronger in the two-mile. In that era distance running was considered so strenuous that many U.S. states did not allow high school age athletes to compete in any distance over a mile. With the help of Harvard officials Bruce talked his way into the two-mile. He would have these fights with race directors many times over his career. Ultimately, by validating his admittance into races with stunning performances, he paved the way for a younger generation of distance runners.

At the age of 15, Bruce became the first protégé of Fred Foot, an innovative middle and distance running coach. While classmates at Malvern Collegiate were only thinking about beating neighbouring schools, Bruce was encouraged by his coach and parents to envision beating runners from right around the world. It was a heady ambition but he ran with it, literally.

His successes in running quickly became associated with travel, and thus became his entrée to the world; satisfying his voracious appetite for world politics and knowledge of different cultures.

It was perfect timing. In the early 1960’s Track and field was experiencing a golden era with sold-out major indoor meets every weekend somewhere in the U.S. or Canada. A packed international outdoor schedule followed. Bruce Kidd and Bill Crothers, York Track Club teammates, were so successful, not only did they receive every invitation, they were virtual headliners!

Bruce Kidd continued his march after Boston by throwing Madison Square Gardens into a frenzy. At the 1961 U.S. Indoor Championship he knocked out Olympian Laszlo Tabori and two other previous champions in the three-mile. In Compton, California, he claimed the 5000 metre race over Tabori and this time another great runner, Max Truex. He set a North American record for the 5000 metre and three-mile in the process. Showing his versatility he sloshed through the mud to take the U.S. National Amateur Athletic Union 10,000 metre Cross-Country Championship on a rainy day in Louisville, Kentucky.

Bruce passed those entrance exams to Harvard and received an invitation but elected to attend the University of Toronto. Dr. Bruce Kidd, a great Canadian role model.

MARSH TROPHY TO KIDD Adobe PDF Transcript


Highlights

1961
Lou Marsh Memorial Award
1961, 1962
Lionel Conacher Trophy
1962
Commonwealth Games - Gold medal in 6-mile; bronze medal in 3-mile
1964 - 1990
Member, Canadian Olympic Team
1970
Joined University of Toronto faculty
1998
Dean, U of T Faculty of Physical Education and Health
2005
Named to the Order of Canada