Dave McKenzie wins the Boston Marathon

19 April 1967

Dave McKenzie during the 1967 Boston marathon (West Coast Recollect)

McKenzie set a new course record of 2 hours 15 minutes 45 seconds in finishing ahead of American Tom Laris and Yutaka Aoki of Japan. He was the first New Zealander to win the Boston Marathon.

A 24-year-old printer from Rūnanga on the West Coast, McKenzie had won eight of his 10 previous marathons. Undeterred by the rain and cold that greeted the competitors on race day, McKenzie made his break on the challenging Newton Hills section of the course after he felt ‘something in me legs click like a gear. And all of a sudden I was off and away.’ The recent domination of the event by Japanese runners had been expected to continue and McKenzie’s victory forced ‘a desperate ruffling of pages’ before ‘the band came on strong with God Save the Queen’ (then accepted as New Zealand’s national anthem at major sporting events).

The Boston marathon is held annually on Patriots’ Day, the third Monday in April. First run in 1897 (inspired by the first modern-day marathon at the 1896 Summer Olympics), it is the oldest marathon contested annually and ranks among the ‘five World Marathon Majors’.

McKenzie ran for New Zealand in consecutive summer Olympics but failed to repeat his heroics in Boston, finishing 37th in Mexico City in 1968 and 22nd four years later in Munich.

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