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Athletics at the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Games:

Men's Marathon

Athletics at the 1932 Summer Games: Previous Summer Games ▪ Next Summer Games


Host City: Los Angeles, United States
Venue(s): Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California
Date Started: August 7, 1932
Date Finished: August 7, 1932
Format: 42,195 metres (26 miles, 385 yards) out-and-back.

Gold: ARG Juan Carlos Zabala
Silver: GBR Sam Ferris
Bronze: FIN Armas Toivonen


The early favorite in 1932 was considered to be the great Finnish runner, [Paavo Nurmi], who had never run a full marathon. In June he entered the Finnish Olympic trial, but announced to the official he would stop at around 40 km., because of an Achilles’ tendon problem. His time to there was just over 2-22, equivalent to about a 2-29 marathon, which would have won the race by six minutes. Nurmi made the trip to Los Angeles but did not run the Olympic marathon. Three days before the Olympics began, the IAAF suspended him for having accepted excessive expense money during some of his tours. He was declared a professional and was not allowed to compete in the Olympics.

The 1932 Olympic marathon course started and finished at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, but was a loop course around Los Angeles. The best known runners in the race were two Britons, [Sam Ferris] and [Duncan McLeod Wright]. Also highly considered was the winner of the Finnish trial, [Armas Toivonen]. The Americans had no top contender but interestingly, an Argentine, [Juan Carlos Zabala], had run in two of the American trial races, having come to the United States to acclimate himself. In the race, a stretched-out pack of five led thru 24 miles, which included Zabala, Ferris, Wright, Toivonen, and Japan’s [Seiichiro Tsuda]. Zabala took the lead but was struggling. Ferris, in fourth, was the freshest and closed quickly as they neared the stadium. But he had not started his surge soon enough, and Zabala won on the track by 19 seconds, with Ferris second, and Toivonen third. Zabala attempted two more marathons in his career, but never again finished the race.

View a Phase of this EventFinal Standings

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal T
1 Juan Carlos Zabala 20 Argentina ARG Gold 2-31:36 OB
2 Sam Ferris 31 Great Britain GBR Silver 2-31:55
3 Armas Toivonen 33 Finland FIN Bronze 2-32:12
4 Duncan Wright 35 Great Britain GBR 2-32:41
5 Seiichiro Tsuda 26 Japan JPN 2-35:42
6 Onbai Kin 18 Japan JPN 2-37:28
7 Whitey Michelsen 38 United States USA 2-39:38
8 Oskar Hekš 24 Czechoslovakia TCH 2-41:35
9 Taika Gon 26 Japan JPN 2-42:52
10 Anders Hartington Andersen 25 Denmark DEN 2-44:38
11 Hans Oldag 31 United States USA 2-47:26
12 Cliff Bricker 28 Canada CAN 2-47:58
13 Michele Fanelli 24 Italy ITA 2-49:09
14 Johnny Miles 26 Canada CAN 2-50:32
15 Paul de Bruyn 24 Germany GER 2-52:39
16 François Bégeot 24 France FRA 2-53:34
17 Fernando Chacarelli 27 Argentina ARG 2-55:49
18 Eddie Cudworth 21 Canada CAN 2-58:35
19 João Clemente da Silva Brazil BRA 3-02:06
20 Margarito Pomposo 23 Mexico MEX 3-10:51
AC José Ribas 32 Argentina ARG DNF
AC Matheus Marcondes Brazil BRA DNF
AC Jorge Perry Colombia COL DNF
AC Ville Kyrönen 41 Finland FIN DNF
AC Lasse Virtanen 27 Finland FIN DNF
AC Francesco Roccati 24 Italy ITA DNF
AC Santiago Hernández Mexico MEX DNF
AC Jimmy Henigan 40 United States USA DNF