Sunday, 8 July 2012

This is how a marathon was run...

While India continues to count the days to the London Olympics and build up steam , here is an interesting read from the pages of Olympic history. Read the previous posts on

(Source of below information: Wikipedia)

1904 Summer Olympics were held in the United States. The marathon was the most bizzare event of the games. It was run over dusty roads in extremely hot conditions, with horses and automobiles clearing the way for the runners and in the process creating dust clouds which the athletes had to face in turn.

The first to arrive at the finish line was Frederick Lorz. He had dropped out of the race after nine miles and then took a car ride. Unfortunately the car broke down and he re-entered the race at 19th mile and jogged back to the finish line. The officials thought that he had won the race and awarded him the Gold medal. Lorz played along and treated the situation as a practical joke. He was later banned for one year and his medal forfieted. He returned in 1905 to win the Boston marathon.

Thomas Hick was the first man to cross the finish line legally and won the race. He was a Briton running for the United States.  He received several doses of strychnine sulfate (a common rat poison, which stimulates the nervous system in small doses) mixed with brandy from his trainers. He was supported by his trainers when he crossed the finish, but is still considered the winner. Hicks had to be carried off the track, and possibly would have died in the stadium, had he not been treated by several doctors. A Cuban postman named Felix Carbajal joined the marathon, arriving at the last minute. He had to run in street clothes that he cut around the legs to make them look like shorts. He stopped off in an orchard en route to have a snack on some apples, which turned out to be rotten. The rotten apples caused him to have to lie down and take a nap. Despite falling ill to apples he finished in fourth place !!

The marathon included the first two black Africans to compete in the Olympics; two Tswana tribesmen named Len Tau (real name: Len Taunyane) and Yamasani (real name: Jan Mashiani). But they weren't there to compete in the Olympics, they were actually the sideshow. They had been brought over by the exposition as part of the Boer War exhibit (both were really students from Orange Free State in South Africa, but this fact was not made known to the public). Len Tau finished ninth and Yamasani came in twelfth. This was a disappointment, as many observers were sure Len Tau could have done better if he had not been chased nearly a mile off course by aggressive dogs.


Navneet Sharma said...

Nice information. And what a race it would have been.

RN said...

Yes, indeed .. it must have been a great one and hilarious too , if u think of it now.. taking a nap in a marathon :-) and stil lfinishing 4th .. wow!!

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