Host City: Athina, Greece
Venue(s): Panathenaic Stadium, Athina
Date Started: May 1, 1906
Date Finished: May 1, 1906
Format: 41,860 metres (26.01 miles) point-to-point.
Fourteen countries were represented in what was certainly the most international field ever in a marathon to that date. The course was roughly the same as in 1896, measuring this time about 41,860 metres. The Greeks hoped to duplicate the finish of 1896, when Spyridon Louis had provided the home crowd with a Greek winner. In preparation, the Greeks held a trial race on 17 March 1906, from which they selected their Olympic marathoners. The race was won by Anastasios Koutoulakis, with Dimitrios Kantzias second. Although he had finished second, Kantzias was noted to be the Greek favorite.
The marathoners were transported to Marathon the day before the race (30 April [17 April]) and spent the night at the residence of Foreign Minister Skouzes. The route was staffed at one mile intervals with five soldiers, who were enlisted to provide medical supervision. Ambulances, military surgeons, nurses, and stretchers were available at five mile intervals. The route was kept clear by police, assisted by a battalion of infantry, two squadrons of cavalry, and one of gendermerie. The head timekeeper was a lieutenant of the cavalry who rode at the head of the pack, and changed his mount four times.
The 1906 Olympic marathon race started at 3:05 PM (1505) on 1 May 18 April], a very warm day (27° C. [81° F.]). The starter was G. Karamaliklis. The early lead was held by [George Blake (AUS) and William Frank (USA). At about 25 km., Billy Sherring of Canada passed both runners and dominated the remainder of the race, winning by almost seven minutes. As he passed within two miles of the stadium, a cannon was fired at the Rizarian School to notify the spectators in the Panathenaic Stadium.
When Sherring finished, the disappointment of the Greek crowd was almost palpable, but Prince George greeted him at the stadium entrance and, reminiscent of Louis and 1896, ran with him the entire way to the finish. Sherring finished the race carrying his shoes in his hands. Following Sherring was another foreigner, John Svanberg of Sweden, a well-known distance runner in his native country, who passed Frank near the stadium to finish second. Frank held on to get third place. Blake fell back to finish sixth.
One athlete who did not finish was the Italian, Dorando Pietri, who in 1908 would be involved in the most famous finish in Olympic marathon history when, near collapse, he was helped across the line by the British Olympic officials. He would be disqualified.
The Canadians had tried to send two marathoners, Sherring, and Jack Caffrey, who had twice beaten Sherring in the past year in Canadian distance races. But the proposal to raise money by a civic fund in Hamilton was vetoed by the City Council, and a public concert turned up only $75, not nearly enough for the trip for either man. Sherring was given the money and, on a tip from a bartender, William "Butch" Collier, bet it on a racehorse named Cicely, at six-to-one. Cicely won and Sherring had enough money to go to Athens. He went to Athens over two months early and trained continually on the road between Marathon and Athens. During his stay in Greece, he lost over 20 pounds from his voracious training. One newspaper report of his training noted, "Word was received here today that Sherring, the famous Hamilton sprinter, broke all records in a trial run over the Marathon course at Athens, and will go faster on the day of the race."
|3||William Frank||27||United States||USA||Bronze||3-00:46.8|
|12||Joe Forshaw||25||United States||USA|
|14||Joseph Cormack||Great Britain||GBR||3-35:00.0|
|AC||John Daly||26||Great Britain||GBR||DNF|
|AC||Mike Spring||26||United States||USA||DNF|
|AC||Bob Fowler||23||United States||USA||DNF|