Host City: Stockholm, Sweden
Venue(s): Stockholm Olympic Stadium, Stockholm
Date Started: July 14, 1912
Date Finished: July 14, 1912
Format: 40,200 metres (24.98 miles) out-and-back.
The marathon at Stockholm was the first time the Olympic marathon was conducted as an out-and-back race. The runners started at the Olympic stadium, ran north to the small town of Sollentuna, where they turned just beyond the main village church and returned to the Olympic stadium. Unfortunately the day of the race dawned very hot for Stockholm, a common occurrence in Olympic marathon racing. Gynn and Martin have noted “Unconfirmed reports have suggested a temperature of 32° C. (89.6° F.) in the shade.”
Most of the world’s top long-distance runners were present. The Americans entered 12 runners, the maximum, including the Boston Marathon champions of 1911 (Clarence DeMar) and 1912 (Mike Ryan), two Indian runners (Lewis Tewanima, a Hopi; and Andrew Sockalexis, a Penobscot), and Joe Forshaw, who had run the Olympic marathon in 1906 and 1908, winning the bronze medal at London. The British entered eight runners, including Harry Barrett, who won the 1909 Polytechnic race, and the 3rd-8th place finishers at the 1912 Polytechnic race.
The top two finishers from the 1912 Polytechnic Marathon were not British but both were present at Stockholm. Canada’s James Corkery had won the race, followed by South Africa’s Chris Gitsham. South Africa also entered Kenneth McArthur, who was little known outside of his native country. But between 1909 and 1911 he had won three marathon distance races in South Africa, and had never been defeated at marathon distances.
The race was led through the early stages by Tatu Kolehmainen, Hannes’s brother. At the turn-around at Sollentuna, Chris Gitsham was the leader in 1-12:40, followed by Kolehmainen and McArthur, with a group of five (Fred Lord GBR], [Carlo Speroni ITA], [Alexis Ahlgren SWE], [Sigfrid Jacobsson [SWE], and Corkery) within a minute of the leader.
By 25 km. Kolehmainen had caught Gitsham and the two ran together for several miles. But Kolehmainen dropped out by 35 km. and McArthur caught his teammate at that point (reached in 2-14:20) and they led by over one minute from Jacobsson and America’s virtual unknown, Gaston Strobino.
At the base of a hill, a few kilometres outside the stadium, Gitsham stopped to drink, and McArthur pulled away to take the lead for good. He entered the stadium comfortably ahead, and the two South Africans finished one-two. Strobino finished third. Almost a phantom among American track & field medalists, he had qualified for the Olympic team when he had finished 2nd in a half-marathon in New York earlier in 1912. After the Olympics, Strobino retired and never raced again.
The 1912 Olympic marathon also saw the Games’ first tragedy. Portuguese marathoner Francisco Lázaro from the effects of the race and the hot weather. Taken to Seraphim Hospital, he was never revived and he died on the morning after the race at 0620, the first fatality during an Olympic event.
Kennedy McArthur may be the least known Olympic marathon gold medalist. South African historians know little of his life. But Roger Gynn and Dave Martin, in their book on Olympic marathons, note that he is known to have run six marathons in his running career, and never lost.
In addition to the gold medal, Kennedy McArthur was awarded the Challenge Trophy for the marathon race, that had been donated in 1908 by the King of Greece. The runners who finished in places 4-28 in the marathon were also awarded diplomas of merit. This was all runners finishing within 20% of the winning time.
|1||Ken McArthur||30||South Africa||RSA||Gold||2-36:54.8|
|2||Chris Gitsham||23||South Africa||RSA||Silver||2-37:52.0|
|3||Gaston Strobino||20||United States||USA||Bronze||2-38:42.4|
|4||Andrew Sockalexis||21||United States||USA||2-42:07.9|
|7||John Gallagher||22||United States||USA||2-44:19.4|
|8||Joseph Erxleben||22||United States||USA||2-45:47.2|
|9||Richard Piggott||23||United States||USA||2-46:40.7|
|10||Joe Forshaw||30||United States||USA||2-49:49.4|
|12||Clarence DeMar||23||United States||USA||2-50:46.6|
|14||Harry Green||25||Great Britain||GBR||2-52:11.4|
|16||Lewis Tewanima||United States||USA||2-52:41.4|
|17||Harry Smith||23||United States||USA||2-52:53.8|
|18||Thomas Lilley||24||United States||USA||2-59:35.4|
|19||Arthur Townsend||29||Great Britain||GBR||3-00:05.0|
|21||Fred Lord||33||Great Britain||GBR||3-01:39.2|
|25||Edgar Lloyd||25||Great Britain||GBR||3-09:25.0|
|AC||Harry Barrett||32||Great Britain||GBR||DNF|
|AC||James Beale||31||Great Britain||GBR||DNF|
|AC||Septimus Francom||29||Great Britain||GBR||DNF|
|AC||Tim Kellaway||20||Great Britain||GBR||DNF|
|AC||Henrik Ripszám, Jr.||23||Hungary||HUN||DNF|
|AC||Arthur St. Norman||33||South Africa||RSA||DNF|
|AC||John Reynolds||22||United States||USA||DNF|
|AC||Mike Ryan||23||United States||USA||DNF|