Lawrence King: Running Through the Decades

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It’s ALL about the stories beyond the finish line. And after 60 years, there are many. We are celebrating six decades of extraordinary impact through the eyes of finishers whose lives forever changed because of The Power of Run. 

Meet Lawrence King, Calgary Marathon finisher in 1963 and 1964, seen in the cover photo above wearing bib number 12.

It was a nice day in June of 1963, not too hot, comfortable even, perfect running weather. Lawrence King remembers, in extraordinary detail, lining up at Glenmore Park alongside 18 other men and running down a paved road, known today as Crowchild Trail, all the way to Bearspaw and back again.

Lawrence King, photo courtesy of the Calgary Booster Club

King, now 81, remembers the first 10 miles felt great, he started to feel fatigued around the eleventh mile but was determined to finish even if had to walk the last few miles. He was one of 11 (or maybe 12!) who completed the first ever Calgary Marathon.

“None of us had an idea of what was going on, we weren’t prepared properly, there were only 2 or 3 of us who had ever run a marathon before,” said Lawrence. “We knew nothing of carbohydrates or electrolytes or even the right kind of shoes, we just went out and ran but it was quite the challenge,” King explained.

Results from the first Calgary Marathon on August 10, 1963

60 years later, Lawrence and his wife Helen will be watching from the start line stage on May 26th as some 13,000 runners, walkers, as well as people using mobility devices take on the legacy of that challenge, the Servus Calgary Marathon. Today, running is part of the fabric of the city and hundreds of thousands of people have their own Calgary Marathon stories to share, but back in the 60s, Lawrence was one of only a hand full of people running in the city.

Lawrence loves reminiscing about the camaraderie of those early running years and sharing lively stories about his coach, friend and sometimes competitor, Doug Kyle. “Doug and Carol were always so supportive and did so much for me and for a lot of people,” shares Lawrence. Doug, who pioneered that first race and went on to compete for Canada in the Olympics, passed away in 2023 at 91 years old. The impact Doug and his wife Carol had on the running community reverberates throughout both the track and distance running communities.

Because of Doug and Carol, Lawrence got a track scholarship to Idaho State and eventually went on to coach running for 52 years through CALTAF. It was what he learned from Doug off the track that has really stuck with him, “If somebody did something good for you, pay them back by doing something good for someone else,” he says matter of factly. 

Lawrence King, photographed running for the Idaho State track and field team.

Lawrence continues to give back to running, he now oversees scholarships and awards from the Calgary Booster Club for student athletes, and has been a club member for 37+ years. It’s just one way he continues to pass down what he has learned from Doug and from the sport. “Nothing comes for free, you have to dedicate yourself,” states Lawrence. Sound advice from one runner to the thousands in training for May 26.

Learn more about Lawrence in a piece written by the Calgary Booster Club in 2021.


Stay tuned for more stories from six decades of running!

Do you know someone with a remarkable Calgary Marathon to share? Send us an email at marketing@calgarymarathon.com

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