Top News

On track with new book

Marjorie Turner-Bailey signs her new book Can Run at the Lillian Benham Library in Lockeport.
Marjorie Turner-Bailey signs her new book Can Run at the Lillian Benham Library in Lockeport. - Amy Woolvett - Shelburne Coast Guard

Former track athlete shares her story

LOCKEPORT, N.S.  – Before she was an Olympic athlete, travelling all over the world smashing records, Marjorie Turner-Bailey was a regular kid growing up in the small seaside village of Lockeport.
Sometimes she would sit on the rocks at Lockeport’s Crescent Beach and daydream of visiting places she had never been to.
Later she would train by running up and down this beach with nothing but the surf cheering her on.
Even after all her travels and fame – meeting Mohammad Ali, Princess Diana and holding multiple Canadian track records and competing in the 1976 Olympic games –she always returned to her normal, everyday life.
“When I was home I was mom,” she said during the Oct. 26 release of her ‘Marjorie Turner-Bailey Can Run’.
Despite a stormy night the Lillian Benham Library in Lockeport quickly filled to capacity as Bailey signed copy after copy of her book.
“In 1947 I was born just down the street,” says Bailey. “It’s fitting I would start (her book launch) here.”
Bailey says she never wanted to write a book and admits it might have been the most difficult of all her achievements. But when the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre began to stock its shelves in the gift shop, Bailey wanted to give back something to the centre.
The centre was the first to receive 200 printings of her book.
COMPETING IN TRACK
In 1964 a gym teacher named Eldon Forbes took his first teaching job at Lockeport Regional High School.
He introduced the students to track and field events.
Bailey was a natural.
“They tell us to line up in our lanes,” she wrote in her book.  “The gun goes off and I run. I win! The gun goes off and I win!  Now the jumping called broad jump, and I win! Then the shot put and I win!  Is this possible for a young girl like me, coming from a small fishing town and island with water all around us?”
In 1964 Bailey travelled to PEI for the Eastern Canadian Championships.
There she ran the 100 yards in 10.8 seconds to earn her first Canadian record.
During the race she strained a thigh muscle but went on to place first in the 220-yard race despite this.
This injury would, however, hold her back from competing in the 1964 Olympics.
In 1965 she would shave one second off that time.
In 1966 Bailey competed against Wyomia Tyus who would beat the world record for the 50-yard dash at 5.6 seconds. Bailey came in second at 5.8 seconds, matching Tyus’ previous record.
At the Pan American Games in 1975 in Mexico, she and her team set a Canadian record in the 4x100 relay and Bailey placed third in the 100 metre.
On May 16, 1976, she ran the 100 metres in 11.1 seconds, the first Canadian to ever do it.
She beat out yet another Canadian record on Feb. 21, 1976, for the 50 metres in 6.1 seconds and another on May 29, 1976, with 11.2 seconds during the women’s open 100 metre.
Her career spanned longer than most and despite missing out on her first chance at competing in the Olympics, she was able to secure a spot in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. She was 28 years old.
There she and her team came in 4th place with the 4x100 relay and a time of 43.17 seconds.  Bailey was clocked at 10.8 seconds during her turn with the baton.
When Bailey first began running it was for something to do.
She remained in the top 10 to 12 fastest women in the world for the majority of her career under she hung up her running shoes at the age of 32.
In the book she shares her memories as a young girl growing up in Shelburne County who turned to track and her life journey, complete with challenges, pain, joys and sacrifices
“You can do whatever you want to do, you just have to want to do it,” she says.
Her book will be available for purchase throughout Lockeport and Shelburne and will begin to fill shelves in Halifax as the demand increases. You can also contact her by telephone at 902-774-2558.

Marjorie Turner Bailey at a 1976 training camp in California where Bailey broke the Canadian record in the 100 metres in 11.1 seconds.
Marjorie Turner Bailey at a 1976 training camp in California where Bailey broke the Canadian record in the 100 metres in 11.1 seconds.

Recent Stories