Inducted April 27, 1974
In the Twenties, the Golden Era of Sport in Newfoundland, the glamour event on any sports program was the distance running race varying from five to ten miles. The one individual, more than any other, responsible for popularizing long distance running was a likeable little leprechaun named Ronnie O’Toole. He was born in St. John’s on 3rd March, 1903 and educated at Holy Cross and St. Bon’s schools. His career as a runner began during World War I by participating in short distance races. He was later, and under the guidance of Stan Cullen a scintillating track star of the post war era, to graduate to the three mile distances then the feature attractions at Garden Parties. His first attempt at the 10 mile distance saw him in 1922 go against the then Newfoundland champion Bell. O’Toole finished second but was on his way. In the Fall of 1922 he ran a phenomenal five mile race against a Haligonian in the old Prince’s rink. The Haligonian Jackson nudged out O’Toole at the tape. That race was one of the most memorable ever staged. In 1923 O’Toole dethroned Bell as the Newfoundland long distance running champion. Ron won the Telegram trophy that year and, finally in 1925, became its outright owner. In 1925, as well, he was a member of the Newfoundland team which won the shield at Halifax. He was a member of the equally successful Newfoundland team the following year. In 1928 he represented Newfoundland in the Halifax Herald marathon and won that event shattering, in the process, a record which had stood for 17 years. By that victory he became the only Newfoundlander, before or since to win that prestigious award. Something unique in the annals of local sport occurred in 1929 when the Guards A.A., rival to the club to which O’Toole owed allegiance, sponsored him for the Boston Marathon. He finished 8th in that historic run. Next year he was back again to improve his position by finishing sixth. That race was an agonizing ordeal. He finished the last mile in blood-stained stocking feet. The Boston newspapers of that day gave him greater acclaim than the winner Johnny Miles.
Athletics is a sphere of endeavour which demands the utmost of effort in the attainment of the plane of perfection. If in the process an athlete can achieve that goal and retain the admiration and affection of the public such as Ronnie O’Toole has done then that indeed is a magnificent accomplishment.