Jack Donaldson (Australia)
Champion Runner of the World from 100 to 600 Yards.
Jack Donaldson (Australia)
Champion Runner of the World from 100 to 600 Yards.
Postcard. Author’s Collection.

World Champion Australian sprinter, Jack Donaldson, journeyed to and from Auckland and Sydney in 1912, both voyages aboard the Wimmera.

The Wimmera departed Sydney on Wednesday 28 February 1912 and arrived in Auckland on the 4th/5th of March.



Jack Donaldson, the world’s champion runner, who is to run an exhibition match over three distances, against Arthur Postle at the St. Patrick’s Day sports on the 10th inst, arrived in Auckland by the Wimmera last evening. The famous runner, who is accompanied by his manager, Mr. Fraser, was met on arrival by Mr. A. J. Woodley, secretary of the St. Patrick’s Day sports committee, and taken to the Albert Hotel, where he will put up during his stay in Auckland.

Interviewed by a “Star” representative, Donaldson, who is a slight-built, unassuming young fellow, stated that he had a bad trip over, and was in bed practically the whole way across the pond. He was a very poor sailor, and naturally his appetite suffered a bit through that rolling motion, caused by what sailors are pleased to term a slight jobble, but which landsmen put down as mountainous seas. However, he was very well when he left, and expected to strike form again after a few days’ training. Speaking of his more recent performances, the famous runner mentioned that during the six days’ cycling race at Melbourne, he competed against practically a menagerie over 100yds. On the Monday he raced a man on a cycle level, on the Wednesday he competed against a whippet, receiving 25yds. start, and on the Saturday raced a pony, winning all three events. So far, he had no matches in view, but had offered to concede R. E. Walker, the South African, who was boomed as a world-beater 3 yardss [sic] in 130 yds. for £ 500 a-side, but could get no reply. His last match with Walker, which he won easily, was not a very satisfactory affair, and the actions of Walker and his managers in connection with the race, did them a lot of harm in their own country, where the facts were well known. “It was in South Africa,” continued Donaldson, “that I first got my reputation, and Australians who were inclined to doubt my performances got quite a shock when I defeated Arthur Postle over 100 yards. I ran all distances over there up to half a mile, which I was credited with covering in 1.57. To give some idea of the tax on a man. I may mention that I won a race over 60yds., conceding start up to 15 1/2yds., and three days later gave away 100yds, and won a 600 yds. race in 1.12 1-5s., so that one got very little chance of being a specialist over a set distance. I have run several exhibition races with Arthur Postle, and the public always witness a fair go. Postle is an exceptionally fast sprinter, and up to 50yds. is a bit the best, while up to 100 yds. there is very little between us, with the balance in my favour. At Echuca recently, I conceded Postle a yard in 1.30 and beat him. He beat me recently, but I had a severe gruelling in a 220 yds race, which I won after having to concede 28yds.”

“What do I consider my best performance? Well, I hardly know, but I think the 130 yds. race in Sydney, when I ran the distance in 12secs dead; takes some beating.”

Questioned ae to his future movements, Donaldson stated he intended to return to Sydney on the 13th inst., the Monday after the match with Postle. He and Postle had been offered a match at Dunedin, but the agreement they were asked to sign was anything but a sporting one, and he would not run there if they offered £ 200, so he cried the negotiations off. 

Donaldson, who weighs 10st 5lb. when in first-class condition, is 26 years of age, and the day he runs Postle in Auckland, is his birthday.

Auckland Star, Volume XLIII, Issue 55, 4 March 1912, Page 2

Advertisement. Observer, Volume XXXII, Issue 25, 2 March 1912, Page 10
Advertisement. Observer, Volume XXXII, Issue 25, 2 March 1912, Page 10

On Saturday 16 March he competed against former champion Arthur Postle of Queensland in three exhibition races at the Auckland Domain before an estimated crowd of 15,000 spectators. Unfortunately for Donaldson in this St. Patrick’s Days sports event, his rival not only won all three events but also established a new world record for the 200 yards race at 19 seconds.

Athletics - Postle versus Donaldson
ATHLETICS. NZ Truth, Issue 352, 23 March 1912, Page 3

The races between the sprinters was the subject of recordings on film. The results of which were shortly after shown in New Zealand cinemas.


A moving picture of the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Auckland, including the great race at the  Domain between Postle and Donaldson, is now being shown per medium of the cinematograph, at the King’s Theatre. It is being loudly applauded by the audiences nightly. There will be a matinee to-day. 

New Zealand Herald, Volume XLIX, Issue 14949, 23 March 1912, Page 5

While in New Zealand both Donaldson and Postle were alleged by the Otago Caledonian Society to have breached the contract they were asked to sign at Dunedin. The men considered that the contract was anything but a sporting one. However, before the case reached the Dunedin Magistrate’s Court, the matter was settled by the sprinters through the payment of £50.

Donaldson returned to Australia by the Wimmera. She departed Auckland at 6.50pm Monday 18 March 1912 and arrived back in Sydney on Friday 22nd.


Australian Dictionary of Biography entry http://adbonline.anu.edu.au/biogs/A080341b.htm

© Ralph L. Sanderson 2004-2021

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