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Athletics at the 1912 Stockholm Summer Games:

Men's Marathon

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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.

Gold: RSA Ken McArthur
Silver: RSA Chris Gitsham
Bronze: USA Gaston Strobino

Summary

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.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal T
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
5 Jimmy Duffy 22 Canada CAN 2-42:18.8
6 Sigfrid Jacobsson 28 Sweden SWE 2-43:24.9
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 31 United States USA 2-49:49.4
11 Ed Fabre 23 Canada CAN 2-50:36.2
12 Clarence DeMar 23 United States USA 2-50:46.6
13 Renon Boissière 29 France FRA 2-51:06.6
14 Harry Green 25 Great Britain GBR 2-52:11.4
15 William Forsyth 21 Canada CAN 2-52:23.0
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
20 Felix Kwieton 34 Austria AUT 3-00:48.0
21 Fred Lord 33 Great Britain GBR 3-01:39.2
22 Jacob Westberg 26 Sweden SWE 3-02:05.2
23 Axel Simonsen 25 Norway NOR 3-04:59.4
24 Carl Andersson 35 Sweden SWE 3-06:13.0
25 Edgar Lloyd 25 Great Britain GBR 3-09:25.0
26 Iraklis Sakellaropoulos 24 Greece GRE 3-11:37.0
27 Hjalmar Dahlberg 25 Sweden SWE 3-13:32.2
28 Ivar Lundberg 33 Sweden SWE 3-16:35.2
29 Johannes Christensen 23 Denmark DEN 3-21:57.4
30 Olaf Lodal 26 Denmark DEN 3-21:57.6
31 Ödön Kárpáti 20 Hungary HUN 3-25:21.6
32 Carl Nilsson 23 Sweden SWE 3-26:56.4
33 Emmerich Rath 28 Austria AUT 3-27:03.8
34 Otto Osen 29 Norway NOR 3-36:35.2
AC Stuart Poulter 23 Australasia ANZ DNF
AC Karl Hack 19 Austria AUT DNF
AC Boris Honzátko 36 Bohemia BOH DNF
AC Vladimír Penc 18 Bohemia BOH DNF
AC František Slavík 23 Bohemia BOH DNF
AC James Corkery 22 Canada CAN DNF
AC Aarne Kallberg 20 Finland FIN DNF
AC Tatu Kolehmainen 27 Finland FIN DNF
AC Louis Pauteix 29 France FRA DNF
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 Francesco Ruggero 19 Italy ITA DNF
AC Carlo Speroni 16 Italy ITA DNF
AC Shizo Kanakuri 20 Japan JPN DNF
AC Oscar Fonbæk 24 Norway NOR DNF
AC Francisco Lázaro 21 Portugal POR DNF
AC Arthur St. Norman 33 South Africa RSA DNF
AC Andrejs Kapmals 22 Russia RUS DNF
AC Andrejs Krūkliņš 21 Russia RUS DNF
AC Nikolajs Rasso 21 Russia RUS DNF
AC Elmar Reimann 19 Russia RUS DNF
AC Aleksandrs Upmals 19 Russia RUS DNF
AC Dragutin Tomašević 21 Serbia SRB DNF
AC Alexis Ahlgren 24 Sweden SWE DNF
AC Thure Bergvall 24 Sweden SWE DNF
AC William Grüner 23 Sweden SWE DNF
AC David Guttman 28 Sweden SWE DNF
AC Ivan Lönnberg 20 Sweden SWE DNF
AC Gustaf Törnros 25 Sweden SWE DNF
AC John Reynolds 22 United States USA DNF
AC Mike Ryan 23 United States USA DNF