At the turn of the century, William (Billy) Sherring was acknowledged to be the world premier marathoner. A brakeman with the Grand Trunk Railway, Sherring began by winning local races including the Round-the-Bay marathon, and in 1906, Sherring was chosen to represent Canada in the Athens Olympic Games. However, it was left up to him, a working man with meagre resources, to finance his journey to Athens.
A community fund-raising drive managed to collect $90, a clearly insufficient amount which was then bet on a horse which luckily won with good odds. After seven weeks of training, Sherring led the field of more than 45 runners and broke the old marathon record by four minutes. Sherring's victory focused international attention on Hamilton as a centre for amateur athletics and most particularly, running.