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Athletics at the 1960 Roma Summer Games:

Men's Marathon

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Host City: Roma, Italy
Venue(s): Arch of Constantine, Roma
Date Started: September 10, 1960
Date Finished: September 10, 1960
Format: 42,195 metres (26 miles, 385 yards) point-to-point.

Gold: ETH Abebe Bikila
Silver: MAR Rhadi Ben Abdesselam
Bronze: NZL Barry Magee

Summary

The 1960 Olympic marathon is probably the most unusual marathon in Olympic history. It is the only Olympic marathon that neither started, nor finished at the Olympic stadium. The race started in the late afternoon and finished in the dark, the course lit by torches to illuminate the route. And it was won by a man running barefooted.

The race started at 5:30 PM at the Piazza di Campidoglio, one of Roma's seven hills. The course was a triangular loop, running along many of the wonders of Ancient Roma. The course passed along the Caracalla Baths, ran down the Appian Way, and finished under the Arch of Constantine, in the dark.

The favorite was probably the Soviet runner, Sergey Popov, who on 11 October 1959, at the Košice Marathon in Czechoslovakia, had become the second runner under 2-20, breaking the world record with 2-17:45.2. The early lead was taken by the Belgian Aurèle Vandendriessche, who had won five Belgian titles since 1956. He was joined by a small group that included Britain's Arthur Keily, and two African runners, Ethiopia's Abebe Bikila and the Moroccan, Rhadi Ben Abdesselam. Bikila was unusual as he was running the race barefoot. By 20 km. Bikila and Rhadi had taken the lead, and they would run together until near the stadium. At about 500 metres from the finish, at the Piazza di Porta Capena, running down the torchlit way, Bikila finally broke Rhadi and pulled away to win the race by 25 seconds. It was ironic that Bikila made his move as he passed the Obelisco di Azum, which had been brought to the square from Ethiopia after the Italian invasion of that nation by Mussolini. The bronze medal was won by New Zealand's Barry Magee, with two Soviet runners following – Konstantin Vorobyov in 4th and Popov in 5th.

Bikila would return to run the Olympic marathon again in 1964, winning in world record time. By then he would be acclaimed as the greatest marathoner ever, and many experts still give him that title. In his career, he ran 15 marathons between 1959-68, winning 12 of the first 13, but not finishing his last two, which included his final race at the 1968 Olympics. He would later be severely injured in a car crash, and rendered quadriparetic, dying in the early 1970s.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal T
1 Abebe Bikila 28 Ethiopia ETH Gold 2-15:16.2 WB
2 Rhadi Ben Abdesselam 31 Morocco MAR Silver 2-15:41.6
3 Barry Magee 26 New Zealand NZL Bronze 2-17:18.2
4 Konstantin Vorobyov 29 Soviet Union URS 2-19:09.6
5 Sergey Popov 29 Soviet Union URS 2-19:18.8
6 Thyge Thøgersen 33 Denmark DEN 2-21:03.4
7 Abebe Wakgira 38 Ethiopia ETH 2-21:09.4
8 Bakir Ben Aissa 29 Morocco MAR 2-21:21.4
9 Osvaldo Suárez 26 Argentina ARG 2-21:26.6
10 Luka Škrinjar 40 Yugoslavia YUG 2-21:40.2
11 Nikolay Rumyantsev 30 Soviet Union URS 2-21:49.4
12 Franjo Mihalić 40 Yugoslavia YUG 2-21:52.6
13 Keith James 25 South Africa RSA 2-22:58.6
14 Pavel Kantorek 30 Czechoslovakia TCH 2-22:59.8
15 Gumersindo Gómez 31 Argentina ARG 2-23:00.0
16 Sonny O'Gorman 32 Great Britain GBR 2-24:16.2
17 Miguel Navarro 30 Spain ESP 2-24:17.4
18 Jeff Julian 24 New Zealand NZL 2-24:50.6
19 Johnny Kelley 29 United States USA 2-24:58.0
20 Lee Chang-Hun 25 South Korea KOR 2-25:02.2
21 Arnold Vaide 34 Sweden SWE 2-25:40.2
22 Gerry McIntyre 31 Ireland IRL 2-26:03.0
23 Olavi Manninen 32 Finland FIN 2-26:33.0
24 Eino Oksanen 29 Finland FIN 2-26:38.0
25 Arthur Keily 39 Great Britain GBR 2-27:00.0
26 Tor Torgersen 32 Norway NOR 2-27:30.0
27 Myitung Naw 26 Myanmar MYA 2-28:17.0
28 Bruno Bartholome 33 Germany GER 2-28:39.0
29 Brian Kilby 22 Great Britain GBR 2-28:55.0
30 Alex Breckenridge 28 United States USA 2-29:38.0
31 Kurao Hiroshima 31 Japan JPN 2-29:40.0
32 Kazumi Watanabe 24 Japan JPN 2-29:45.0
33 Juan Silva 30 Chile CHI 2-31:18.0
34 Alain Mimoun 39 France FRA 2-31:20.0
35 Paul Genève 35 France FRA 2-31:20.0
36 Frans Künen 30 Netherlands NED 2-31:25.0
37 Francesco Perrone 29 Italy ITA 2-31:32.0
38 Silvio De Florentis 25 Italy ITA 2-31:54.0
39 Linus Diaz 26 Sri Lanka SRI 2-32:12.0
40 Lal Chand 32 India IND 2-32:13.0
41 Johannes Lauridsen 29 Denmark DEN 2-32:32.0
42 Willie Dunne 26 Ireland IRL 2-33:08.0
43 Ian Sinfield 25 Australia AUS 2-34:16.0
44 Arthur Wittwer 32 Switzerland SUI 2-34:42.2
45 Jagmal Singh 37 India IND 2-35:01.0
46 Nobuyoshi Sadanaga 31 Japan JPN 2-35:11.0
47 Lee Sang-Cheol 24 South Korea KOR 2-35:14.0
48 Gordon McKenzie 33 United States USA 2-35:16.0
49 Ahmed Labidi 38 Tunisia TUN 2-35:43.0
50 Walter Lemos 30 Argentina ARG 2-36:55.0
51 Ray Puckett 24 New Zealand NZL 2-37:36.0
52 Dolfi Gruber 40 Austria AUT 2-37:40.0
53 Antti Viskari 32 Finland FIN 2-38:06.0
54 Allan Lawrence 30 Australia AUS 2-38:46.0
55 Gord Dickson 28 Canada CAN 2-38:46.0
56 Lothar Beckert 29 Germany GER 2-40:10.0
57 Günter Havenstein 31 Germany GER 2-41:14.0
58 Evert Nyberg 35 Sweden SWE 2-42:59.0
59 Arap Sum Kanuti Kenya KEN 2-46:55.2
60 Ranjit Bhatia 24 India IND 2-57:06.0
61 Allah Saoudi Morocco MAR 2-59:41.0
62 Alifu Massaquoi 23 Liberia LBR 3-43:18.0
AC Hedi Dhaoui 25 Tunisia TUN DNF
AC Vito Di Terlizzi 30 Italy ITA DNF
AC Mouldi Essalhi 28 Tunisia TUN DNF
AC Gerhart Hecker 26 Hungary HUN DNF
AC Kim Yeon-Beom 25 South Korea KOR DNF
AC Bertie Messitt 29 Ireland IRL DNF
AC Aurèle Vandendriessche 28 Belgium BEL DNF