By Terry O’Hearn
More than seventy runners finished this year’s 2016 Glen Tay Block Race, despite hot and humid weather. The overall winner was Earl Steinbrecher of Willseyville, NY, who finished in a time of 55:47. Although it was well off the course record of 45:14 set by Kingston’s Steve Boyd in 2003, it was nonetheless considered a decent time by race organizers.
This year’s race was the 50th consecutive running of the modern edition of the race, and it was also one of the Perth 200th Anniversary events. Perth Deputy-Mayor and chair of the 200th Anniversary Committee John Gemmell was present to bring greetings to the runners on behalf of the town, and fired the starting pistol to begin the race. Legion President Eric Devlin was also present at the race on behalf of Branch 244, one of the sponsors.
The modern day version of the race was conceived in 1967 as a Centennial Year project by Educator and Coach Tom Graham, sportsmen Rusty White and Peter Code, and was sponsored by Perth merchants Bill and Jack Wilson. It starts and finishes in front of the Perth Museum, and covers 14.7-kilometres, or 9.1 miles, proceeding in an anti-clockwise direction out County Road 6 (Christie Lake Road). The runners turn left at the Glen Tay Road, and return to Perth via County Road 10 (Scotch Line).
The very first winner of the historic race, as related in the old November 8, 1907 edition of The Perth Courier, was Edmund Code. “The honour of winning the first prize, the beautiful silver cup, fell to Mr. Edmund B. Code, who finished the eight miles in the remarkably good time of 52 minutes, 43 and 2/5 seconds. Mr. Code is the son of County Treasurer John Code, and a student of the Perth Collegiate Institute, and is well known as an all-round athlete.”
The race was first staged in 1907, and was called the “Rogers & Nicoll’s Race”. It covered a distance of eight miles, with a turnaround point at the hamlet of Manion, and was contested for several years on Thanksgiving Day in Perth after that.
Replicas of the Bill Wilson Memorial Trophy (men), Perth Runners Trophy (women), and Tom Graham Cup (local) are awarded to the race winners. Medals are awarded in several age class categories, and a Branch 244 Legion commemorative pennant and race certificate are presented to each participant.
Many veteran runners from the Ottawa, Kingston, and Brockville areas plan their running calendar around the historic race, and some have been running it for decades.
Photo Caption: Winner Earl Steinbrecher crosses the finish line. Photo Credit: Terry O’Hearn.