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Athletics at the 1968 Ciudad de México Summer Games:

Men's Marathon

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Host City: Ciudad de México, Mexico
Venue(s): University Olympic Stadium, Ciudad de México
Date Started: October 20, 1968
Date Finished: October 20, 1968
Format: 42,195 metres (26 miles, 385 yards) point-to-point.

Gold: ETH Mamo Wolde
Silver: JPN Kenji Kimihara
Bronze: NZL Mike Ryan

Summary

The 1968 Olympic Games were held at Ciudad de México, which lies at an altitude of 2,240 metres, or 7,350 feet. The effect of high-altitude on athletic performance was known from previous competitions. In sprints and short-distance races, it produced record performances, but at distances, the thin air, with lesser oxygen content, impeded the athletes, and resulted in very slow competitions. No event in 1968 would be more affected by the altitude than the marathon.

The two-time defending champion, Abebe Bikila, was back and since he had grown up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at higher altitude than Mexico City, he should have been a favorite. But he was injured, having recently had an appendectomy and was running the race with a stress fracture. He would not finish. But his teammate, Mamo Wolde, had also grown up at that altitude and his track experience, which went back to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, made him a formidable contender.

The race began at 3 PM on the final day of track & field competition, on a warm (23° C. 73° F.]) and sunny day. The course was point-to-point, starting at the Plaza de la Constitución, known as the Zócala, and ending at the Stadio Olímpico. The pace was slow, the runners worried about the altitude, and thru 10 km., a large group of runners led the field. By 20 km. the lead was held by Belgium’s [Gaston Roelants, 1964 gold medalist in the steeplechase, and Britain’s Tim Johnston, followed closely by four runners – Naftali Temu, who a week before had won the 10 km. on the track, Wolde, Jürgen Busch (GDR), and Turkey’s İsmail Akçay. Temu then pulled ahead by 25 km., but Mamo Wolde took the lead at 30 km. He eventually won by over three minutes from Japan’s Kenji Kimihara, making it three straight marathon gold medals for Ethiopia.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal T
1 Mamo Wolde 36 Ethiopia ETH Gold 2-20:26.4
2 Kenji Kimihara 27 Japan JPN Silver 2-23:31.0
3 Mike Ryan 26 New Zealand NZL Bronze 2-23:45.0
4 İsmail Akçay 26 Turkey TUR 2-25:18.8
5 Bill Adcocks 26 Great Britain GBR 2-25:33.0
6 Gabrou Merawi 36 Ethiopia ETH 2-27:16.8
7 Derek Clayton 25 Australia AUS 2-27:23.8
8 Tim Johnston 27 Great Britain GBR 2-28:04.4
9 Akio Usami 25 Japan JPN 2-28:06.2
10 Andy Boychuk 27 Canada CAN 2-28:40.2
11 Gaston Roelants 31 Belgium BEL 2-29:04.8
12 Pat McMahon 26 Ireland IRL 2-29:21.0
13 Alfredo Peñaloza 21 Mexico MEX 2-29:48.8
14 Kenny Moore 24 United States USA 2-29:49.4
15 Jürgen Busch 25 East Germany GDR 2-30:42.6
16 George Young 31 United States USA 2-31:15.0
17 Manfred Steffny 27 West Germany FRG 2-31:23.8
18 Thin Sumbwegam 38 Myanmar MYA 2-32:22.0
19 Naftali Temu 23 Kenya KEN 2-32:36.0
20 Maurice Peiren 30 Belgium BEL 2-32:49.0
21 Antonio Ambu 32 Italy ITA 2-33:19.6
22 Ron Daws 31 United States USA 2-33:53.0
23 Karl-Heinz Sievers 26 West Germany FRG 2-34:11.8
24 Gyula Tóth 32 Hungary HUN 2-34:49.0
25 Hüseyin Aktaş 27 Turkey TUR 2-35:09.5
26 Pablo Garrido 30 Mexico MEX 2-35:47.8
27 Aad Steylen 33 Netherlands NED 2-37:42.0
28 Anatoly Sukharkov 30 Soviet Union URS 2-38:07.4
29 Lee Myeong-Jeong 23 South Korea KOR 2-38:52.2
30 Ivaylo Sharankov 34 Bulgaria BUL 2-39:49.6
31 Gioacchino De Palma 28 Italy ITA 2-39:58.2
32 Josef Gwerder 29 Switzerland SUI 2-40:16.0
33 Hubert Riesner 22 West Germany FRG 2-41:29.0
34 Georg Olsen 31 Denmark DEN 2-42:24.6
35 Douglas Zinkala 24 Zambia ZAM 2-42:51.0
36 Ezequiel Baeza 24 Chile CHI 2-43:15.6
37 Dave McKenzie 25 New Zealand NZL 2-43:36.6
38 Kim Bong-Nae 26 South Korea KOR 2-43:56.0
39 Carlos Cuque 22 Guatemala GUA 2-45:20.4
40 Godwin Kalimbwe 22 Zambia ZAM 2-45:26.8
41 Mick Molloy 30 Ireland IRL 2-48:13.6
42 Nikola Simeonov 28 Bulgaria BUL 2-48:30.4
43 John Farrington 26 Australia AUS 2-50:16.8
44 Helmut Kunisch 31 Switzerland SUI 2-50:58.2
45 Alifu Massaquoi 31 Sierra Leone SLE 2-52:28.0
46 Lee Sang-Hun 30 South Korea KOR 2-52:46.2
47 Hla Thein 24 Myanmar MYA 2-54:03.6
48 Paul Mose 19 Kenya KEN 2-55:17.0
49 Benjamin Silva-Netto 29 Philippines PHI 2-56:19.4
50 Harry Prowell 32 Guyana GUY 2-57:01.4
51 Wimalasena Perera 23 Sri Lanka SRI 2-59:05.8
52 Fulgencio Hernández 27 Guatemala GUA 3-00:40.2
53 Gustavo Gutiérrez 29 Ecuador ECU 3-03:07.0
54 Martin Ande 20 Nigeria NGR 3-03:47.6
55 Mustafa Musa 21 Uganda UGA 3-04:53.8
56 Enoch Muemba 21 Zambia ZAM 3-06:16.0
57 John Stephen Akhwari Tanzania TAN 3-25:17.0
AC Jim Alder 28 Great Britain GBR DNF
AC Mraljeb Ayed Mansoor Kuwait KUW DNF
AC Abebe Bikila 36 Ethiopia ETH DNF
AC Jerome Drayton 23 Canada CAN DNF
AC René Combes 31 France FRA DNF
AC Nedo Farčić 27 Yugoslavia YUG DNF
AC Edgar Friedli 34 Switzerland SUI DNF
AC José García 22 Mexico MEX DNF
AC Armando González 28 Uruguay URU DNF
AC Lajos Mecser 26 Hungary HUN DNF
AC József Sütő 31 Hungary HUN DNF
AC Saoud Obaid Daifallah Kuwait KUW DNF
AC Carlos Pérez 33 Spain ESP DNF
AC Pentti Rummakko 25 Finland FIN DNF
AC Seiichiro Sasaki 23 Japan JPN DNF
AC Mukhamed Shakirov 35 Soviet Union URS DNF
AC Guy Texereau 33 France FRA DNF
AC Rafael Pérez 22 Costa Rica CRC DNF