Don Coaker’s tremendous running successes established a standard by which other exceptional running athletes could be judged. While he excelled at the highest level of the Telegram ten-mile road race, he performed at an extremely impressive level in races of all distances from one-mile to marathon.
His skill and talent were such that he dominated distance running within Newfoundland and Labrador during the 1960’s, setting a pace that equaled that of any other performer within the province. His six consecutive first-place finishes in the Tely Ten from 1962 to 1967 are a clear demonstration of his great ability.
The victories also show the determination he brought to running and certainly highlight his devotion to his sport. Overall, his willingness to train and remain in top condition was proven by the rewarding results that he achieved.
It should be well noted that in addition to ten-mile successes he racked up victories in six one-mile races, five six-mile races and had a marathon win. Among the top finishers in every race which he entered, he was always regarded as the one to beat in every race during the era in which he excelled.
He was one of the few local runners to compete outside of the province. In 1964, despite an injury, he placed eighth in a 15-mile race in Guelph, Ontario. He was the first Newfoundlander to receive recognition under the Amateur Athletic Union of Canada’s national standards plan after posting qualifying times over ten miles and the marathon.
In all his athletic endeavors he displayed the utmost in sportsmanship and earned an excellent reputation for the manner in which he competed. Extremely popular, he was especially a fine representative of the Church Lads Brigade joining many others from the organization in a variety of sports events.
Away from running, he rowed in the Royal St. John’s Regatta for seven years, played St. John’s Mercantile Hockey for eight seasons and coached and officiated in the Mount Pearl Minor Soccer League from 1974 to 1984.
His tremendous running career earned Don Coaker induction into the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame.
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