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Tely 10 gets a song

Bill Smith plays guitar on his deck in St. John’s. He is looking forward to running the Tely 10 this Sunday.
Bill Smith plays guitar on his deck in St. John’s. He is looking forward to running the Tely 10 this Sunday. - Sadie-Rae Werner

The Tely 10 has, for 91 years, inspired runners and those aspiring to run in the province to realize their goals. Outside the realm of athletics, it has served as the subject of paintings, and now, a song.

It came to the attention of Bill Smith, a retired instructor at the College of the North Atlantic who enjoys playing his guitar and singing with some of his friends at kitchen parties, that he had never heard a song about the Tely 10, despite how long it has been a major event in St. John’s.

“I haven’t heard even the Tely 10 mentioned in a song, and next to the Regatta, I think it’s the biggest turnout of people,” says Smith, who took it upon himself to try to rectify the situation.

Smith enjoys writing songs for the birthdays and anniversaries of friends and family, and in honour of his daughter coming to run the Tely 10 with him for the first time, he decided to write a short song about the race called “Doing the Tely 10,” inspired by the melody of “Please Don’t Bury Me” by John Prine.

“I got a little bit inspired by the fact that my daughter was coming home to run, so I thought that if I had a song it might egg her on a bit or make it feel a bit more special,” says Smith.

His daughter is coming home from Toronto to run with him as a belated 70th birthday celebration. Smith recorded the song on his phone and sent it to his daughter as extra motivation for the race.

Smith was sitting down one day thinking about different parts of the race, from the training to the starting line in Paradise and crossing the finish line at Bannerman Park, and the song came together quite quickly.

“I find what I really appreciate are the number that turn out and spur you on. They cheer you on, and they don’t even know you or anything, but everyone is clapping and egging you on and it seems like it helps you pick up energy. … That’s one thing I find nice about the race,” Smith said when asked what images were front of mind for him when composing the song.

“You’re always running with someone you know, maybe someone you haven’t seen for a long time,” says Smith, who this year will run the race for the sixth or seventh time, and enjoys seeing old friends along the course.

“There are so many good songwriters around Newfoundland and I’m sure that maybe if they hear my song they’ll think, I can do better than that, so maybe there will be some songs that come out of it,” Smith says, adding that he hopes the song will inspire other musicians to write about the Tely 10.

"Doing the Tely 10"

(By Bill Smith)

Got my running shoes all ready

The training schedule’s out

My registration’s been sent in

Time to practice now no doubt

I’m gonna do the Tely 10

Can’t wait till race day’s here

I’ll be running the course that time for sure

A high point of the year.

Oh, I’m running in the Tely 10

Can’t wait to get on the go

Running in that famous race

It’ll be a great run I know

From the starting line at Paradise

To the finish at Bannerman

Whatever my time one thing’s for sure

I’ll be doin’ the best I can.

The Tely 10’s been around so long

Since nineteen twenty-two

In wheelchairs, walking, running we go

It’s the race anyone can do

Through the years there’ve been those champs

So fast upon their feet

And the records of Bazeley and McCloy

This year can they be beat?

In Paradise Tely 10ers meet

Fourth Sunday in July

Laughin’, talkin’, warmin’ up

Everyone’s just feelin’ fine

Then the crowd does get in line

As the race is to begin

And when all join in and sing our Ode

There’s goosebumps on my skin.

The starter fires the gun at eight

And the crowd heads out as one

Excitement’s electric in the air

Knowin’ the race has now begun

Along the way those volunteers

Help out, so much they do

And the folks who line the course cheer on

Friends, family, strangers too.

Yes, We’re running in the Tely 10

Gonna be a great race we know

Running in the Tely 10

So good to be on the go

From the starting line at Paradise

To the finish at Bannerman

Whatever our time one thing’s for sure

We’ll be doing the best we can.

Yes, we’re doing the Tely 10 today

We’ll see you at Bannerman!

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