James (Jim) Stokes
Sport: Track & Field
Year Inducted: 1984
Cornwall’s man of iron is an exception to the rule – every rule. James “Jim” Stokes defied sporting description. No single discipline is wide enough to encompass his talents. He is, at once, a runner, cyclist, roller skater, swimmer, parachutist, cross-country skier, and so on. It was Jim’s versatility that first brought him to public attention.
While others his age were settling into retirement, Jim was busily preparing for one of man’s cruelest tests of endurance – the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon.
At the age of 63, Jim entered the 140.6 mile odyssey which combines excellence in swimming, cycling and running.
There was but one competitor older than the Cornwall physiotherapist and five others in the 60-plus category. Jim blew them all away to win his class in 14.5 hours. One rival, shocked by Jim’s showing, quipped “I knew he was a darkhorse but I didn’t think he was that dark”.
Jim himself, was surprised by his condition upon reaching the finish line. “I felt no pain, no discomfort, no cramps. Even after I finished, I walked a mile and a half up a mountain to my accommodations”.
And how did it feel? “It was an eerie feeling – like at the end of the war. When we knew it was absolutely over, you wanted to believe it but you couldn’t. I waited to wake up in a few minutes and find I still had to do it.”
Among his other accomplishments are a pair of first place finishes at the 1977 and 1979 North American Cross-Country Championships, four more top finishes at the 1979 Canadian Masters’ Track and Field Championship, and six high placements – including 3 firsts in his class at marathons.
Most who join the exclusive sports club are long past their athletic days. Jim remained dedicated to physical activity for the rest of his life.