Henry Elphinstone Wins the 1911 Laurel to D.C. Marathon

Technically, it wasn’t a full marathon as it was only 20 miles, but young Henry Elphinstone from Baltimore finished first with a time of 2 hours 16 minutes and 40 seconds. This was a full two minutes faster than the second place runner, John Kelley, a member of the same Baltimore Cross Country Club.

Henry Elphinstone
Henry Elphinstone running the Laurel to D.C. marathon in 1911

The Baltimore Sun wrote on May 13th, 1911:

Henry C. Elphinstone, of the Baltimore Cross Country Club, today won the third annual Marathon race from Laurel to Washington. J.B. Bolack and H.G. Hullfish, both of the Washington Cross Country Club, picked as the Washington favorites by those who professed to know, were a bitter disappointment. Bolack was eighth at the finish, while his partner was ninth. All the way in from Laurel the boys kept well up in the lead.

Looks like our running representatives from D.C.were trounced by their athletically superior neighbors from Maryland. Apparently they were keeping pace during the early part of the race as the article mentions.

It was Baltimore all the way from Laurel, although Bolack and Hullfish were pacing Elphinstone out near Beltsville and Hyattsville … As in every race, some of the boys were off well, but that was all. Once Elphinstone settled into his stride, he began plowing through the novices like a liner through a school of porpoises.

I’m not sure what “liner through a school of porpoises” really means, but clearly Elphinstone dominated.

A little digging with Ancestry.com and I see that he was born around 1886 in Virginia, which would make him 25 years old at the time of the race. By 1920, he was living at 902 Beaumont Avenue in Baltimore with his wife Mary, young son and newborn daughter. He worked for at least a decade as a bookkeeper for the railroad since the 1930 census has him in the same residence with the same occupation.


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