Host City: Antwerpen, Belgium
Venue(s): Olympic Stadium, Antwerpen
Date Started: August 22, 1920
Date Finished: August 22, 1920
Format: 42,750 metres (26.56 miles) out-and-back .
The marathon course was the longest in Olympic history at 42.75 km. The course began and ended in Beerschot Stadium, with the runners doing 1½ laps of the track at the beginning and end of the race. Fortunately the weather was cool and damp. South Africa’s Chris Gitsham and Belgium’s Auguste Broos were the early leaders, taking the lead by three kilometres. Gitsham had been training on the course for several weeks. At 20 km. the lead pack consisted of Gitsham, Broos, Hannes Kolehmainen, and Italy’s Ettore Blasi, with Estonia’s Jüri Lossmann and the Finn, Juho Tuomikoski, close behind. Kolehmainen, winner of the 5 and 10K at Stockholm in 1912, took the lead at the midpoint of the race, and overall, he and Gitsham ran together for almost 15 kilometres. Gitsham, however, was having problems with a leg injury and withdrew at around 37 kilometres. Kolehmainen by then was pulling away for what appeared would be an easy victory, in what was the fastest time ever run for the marathon, even with the extra-long course. However, Lossmann closed superbly and finished only about 13 seconds behind the Finn. Lossmann later declared that had any of his Estonian teammates supported him, instead of going on an all day excursion, he would have won the race. The third-place finisher, Valerio Arri of Italy, was so delighted with his bronze medal, that he performed three cartwheel somersaults as he crossed the finish line.
One of the Australian competitors, Wilfred Kent-Hughes wrote the following of Kolehmainen’s victory, “The winner could not rest his tired muscles. They wrapped him in the flag of his country, placed a laurel wreath on his head, and forced him to make one more round of the track. Kolehmainen ran round tiredly, in his fantastic ‘costume’ and reminded one of a Greek god who, dressed in a Roman toga, had just flown down from Olympus. The crowd wildly cheered him, and the fanatic sports lovers passed him from hand to hand. It’s surprising he ever managed to survive the great ‘honour.’”
Diplomas of merit were awarded to all runners who finished the race within 25% of the winning time, or anyone under 3-10:44.8, which worked out to be the top 30 runners.
|7||Joseph Organ||28||United States||USA||2-41:30.0|
|11||Carl Linder||30||United States||USA||2-44:21.2|
|12||Chuck Mellor||26||United States||USA||2-45:30.0|
|14||Bobby Mills||26||Great Britain||GBR||2-48:05.0|
|29||George Piper||Great Britain||GBR||3-02:10.0|
|31||Leslie Housden||25||Great Britain||GBR||3-14:07.0|
|35||Eric Robertson||27||Great Britain||GBR||3-55:00.0|
|AC||Chris Gitsham||31||South Africa||RSA||DNF|
|AC||Arthur Roth||28||United States||USA||DNF|
|AC||Desiré Van Remortel||Belgium||BEL||DNF|