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The Historic Series on Olympic Running (XI): Men’s marathon


Two gold medals for Waldemar Cierpinski

The womens marathon took place on Sunday, August 22, and on August 29, 2004, the mens marathon will take place as the running highlight and end of the XXVIII Olympic Games in Athens (start: 5 p.m.).

The favourites for the 11 running disciplines (800m and up) have been presented here, as well as the German participants with their successes and placings in the running events since 1896 in Athens in a special historical series.

Then one after another all of the medal winners, gold, silver and bronze - and sometimes the further placings as well-of the individual events have been mentioned by name, brought out of the past and rescued from oblivion. Through this treatment of the great Olympic races and the Olympic spirit that arose, it came about that not only the German participation-or often lack of it-but also the great heroes and legends of the ash and tartan tracks and of the road were named briefly and their achievements were mentioned here.

The series comes to an end with this article-and will be picked up again in four years.

The BERLIN MARATHON has been recognizing the Olympic Champions of the Olympic marathon since 1978.
From 1974 to 1977, classical running figures decorated the certificates and medals for the participants of the BERLIN MARATHON. Starting in 1978, each year the portrait of an Olympic champion has been depicted on the medals, and the history of that victory was told in the marathon programme, according to the descriptions by Ekkehard zur Megede in his two-volume work.

The return to Athens and Marathon naturally is of special importance and meaning for the real,- BERLIN MARATHON.

The marathon has been part of the mens Olympic disciplines since 1896 - starting in the city whose name became world famous through the legend of the delivery of the news of victory of the Athenians over the Persians.

The headline reads "WELCOME HOME". Just as the shot put competition returned to the antiquities stadium in Olympia, the marathon is returning to its roots: MARATHON!

The content, results and statistics of the following article are based primarily on the book "THE OLYMPIC MARATHON" -The History and Drama of Sports most Challenging Event" by David E. Martin (USA) and Roger W. H. Gynn (GBR) - published by Human Kinetics, 2000.

The book is 514-pages long, so one can guess how much information the authors have gathered on the race of all races that can not possibly repeated here. This author has general permission from the authors to reproduce texts, photos and statistics from the book.

Some reference is also made to Ekkehard zur Megedes two-volume work from 1968 "The History of Olympic Track and Field" (Die Geschichte der Olympischen Leichtathletik) (Bartels & Wernitz).

We have used the classifications of Dave Martin for the rankings according to nationality; the statistics include differing information on some athletes nationalities, for instance Théato is sometimes listed as a Luxumbourger and not Frenchman, while France had two champions who were born in the French colonies. Similarly, Thomas Hicks, who was born in England, ran for the USA, while Kitei Son was a Korean who ran under the Japanese flag. Martin tells amusing stories, such as the three American Olympic champions who did not have the honour of being the first to enter the Olympic stadium. One winner ran the entire course barefoot, one runner was named Emile Champion but was not the champion, and another was named Ernst Fast but was not quick enough to win.

The marathon: 42.195 km or 26 miles and 385 yards is the current standard length for this race.

There is also the 90 km Comrades Marathon between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, and the 78 km Swiss Alpine Marathon. Then and now, the real Marathon was only about 40 km from Athens.

Marathon - are the Ethiopians the best? Or who is?
In the overview, the Ethiopians lead the list of the most successful nations with 4 gold medals, with a total of 6 medals; the Americans have a total of 8 medals, though, 3 of which are gold, while the Brits "only" have 5 silver medals and six countries have 2 gold medals each-who can really says who is the more successful country after 104 years?

28 countries share the 72 medals, 14 countries won gold medals

No other running discipline over 800m can boast so many countries among the medal winners, which speaks for the worldwide popularity of this event.

Waldemar Cierpinski is the greatest running star among the German marathon runners. He won 2 gold medals on this tough distance, and can be mentioned in one breath together with the great Abebe Bikila.

Stephan Freigang had his big day in Barcelona and sensationally won the bronze medal.

Overview of the distribution of medals of the most successful countries in the marathon:

Germany: 2 x gold / 0 x silver / 1 x bronze

ETH: 4 G / 1 S / 1 B
USA: 3 G / 1 S / 4 B
FRA: 2 G / 2 S
RSA: 2 G / 2 S
ARG: 2G / 1 S
FIN: 2 G / 0 S / 3 B
JPN: 1 G / 1 S / 2 B
ITA: 1 G / 1 S / 1 B
GRE: 1 G / 1 S
KOR: 1 G / 1 S
LUX: 1 G
CZE: 1 G
POR: 1 G
GBR: 0 G / 5 S
KEN: 0 G / 2 S / 1 B
YUG: 0 G / 2 S
BEL: 0 G / 1 S / 2 B
EST: 0 G / 1 S
CHI: 0 G / 1 S
MAR: 0 G / 1 S
NED: 0 G / 1 S
IRL: 0 G / 1 S
SWE: 0 G / 0 S / 2 B
NZL: 0 G / 0 S / 2 B
URS: 0 G / 0 S / 1 B
HUN: 0 G / 0 S / 1 B
DJI: 0 G / 0 S / 1 B

Athens 1896 - "Spiridon Louis in the lead" - bicyclist, colonel, and police president

The athletes were taken to Marathon on Thursday afternoon, "March 28 (Julian) - or April 9 according to the Gregorian calendar". They stayed there over night. 18 went, 17 started-"one unidentified German stayed back," writes Martin. Among the men was Flack (AUS), who won the 800m that same day in 2:11. Megede writes of 25 runners. Three of the top placing runners in the 1500m also participated: the already mentioned Flack (4:33.2), Blake (4:34.0) and Lermusiaux (4:36.). It was thus not surprising that Lermusiaux still led to the halfway mark ahead of the other middle distance runners Flack and Blake. But Blake soon gave up, and Lermusiaux also resigned as the course started to go up hill. Then Flack, the two-time Olympic champion took over the lead.

The only one to run smart was Louis. He smiled and waved to his fellow countrymen, and asked who was ahead of him. According to Megede, he supposedly also stopped to drink a relaxed ¼ litre of wine (greetings from Médoc!).

See the story from 1896 - as a new legend from ATHENS 2004:

Meanwhile the spectators were becoming restless, especially when the German bicyclist August Goederich (who two days later won silver in the bicycling marathon) showed up in the stadium and reported that Flack was still in the lead at the 36km mark. He was wrong, however, for he saw Flack at km 31, not 36. At 32km, Spiridon Louis caught the Australian, ran a few kilometres next to him, and then when Flack had a weak moment, he picked up the pace. Flack had overdone himself, and he had to be taken care of medically. That took place in Ameplokiki (Ampelokipoi), on the city outskirts of Athens. There, on his horse stood Colonel Papadiamantopoulos, who started the runners off and under whose command Spiridon Louis served in the army and who convinced him to participate in the marathon at all, as if just waiting for that moment. When he saw Louis in the lead, he galloped into the stadium to the kings lodge and announced that Louis was in the lead.

A gunshot announced that the winner was approaching the stadium. The police chief of Athens confirmed the report of the colonel, and full of excitement, the 70,000 spectators awaited their countryman. When Louis finally appeared, followed by fellow Greek Charolaos Vasilakos ahead of the first foreigner, Gyula Kellner of Hungary, the crowds roars exploded. The crown prince Konstantin and Prince George accompanied Spiridon Louis on the final 100 metres in the stadium.

Finals: April 10 at 2 p.m. - Course: Point-to-Point - Distance: 40 km - cool and sunny - 17 starters - 10 across the finish (incl. one disqualification) - 5 countries at the start

1. Spiridon Louis (GRE) 2 :58 :50 - 2. Kharilaos Vasilakos (GRE) 3:06:35 - 3. Gyula Kellner (HUN) 3:06:35 - 4. Ioannis Vrettos (GRE) n.t.. - 5. Eleitheros Papasimeon (GRE) n.t.. - 6. Demitrios Deligiannis (GRE) n.t.. - 7. Evangelos Gerakakis (GRE) n.t.. - 8. Stamatios Masouris (GRE) n.t. - 9. Sokratis Lagoudakis (GRE) approx. 3:58:50 (Spiridon Belokas (GRE) was third in 3:06:30, but was later disqualified).

According to Martin, after 1896 nine countries organised marathon races, eight in Europe and one in North America. The first marathon in North America was on September 20, 1896 from Stamford, Connecticut to Columbia Oval in New York. The first Boston Marathon with 15 participants was started on April 19, 1897, and won by John McDermott. Boston was thus the second marathon in the USA. In 1896 in Paris a 40km race was run from Paris to Conflans-in imitation of Athens.

The idea was to break the record held by Spiridon Louis, which was considered to be an "amateur record". 191 men took to the start, including the English professional Len Hurst, who won in 2:31:29.8. In 1900 they changed the direction from Conflans to Paris, and Hurst won again in 2:26:47.4



Paris 1900 - The hottest Olympic marathon in its history

The temperature for the marathon in Paris was between 35° and 39° C. The start was on the track in Bois de Bologna. The hometown runners supposedly had an advantage due to the unclear course marking as they new the city better. After Louis in Greece, of course a Frenchman was to win here as well. Several legends surround the winner Théato, too. He spoke French, but was from Luxembourg. One legend was that he was a baker, and supposedly thus dealt with the heat the best. He supposedly also knew the streets of Paris the best, too, since he always was out delivering the baguettes and croissants. Martin, on the other hand, writes that he was a carpenter and that the Parisians always picked up their croissants themselves, and nothing was delivered. Théato did not cheat, he was simply better than the others on that day. Martin also makes word games about the "second Champion" who was not champion, and the man in third, Fast, who was not quick enough to win. Ernst Fast asked a policemen for the way, and was given the incorrect directions and lost four minutes-the policeman supposedly shot himself a few days later for shame. The American Newton said that he took over the lead after the halfway point, and although no one passed him, at the finish someone else was suddenly ahead of him.

Finals (July19) at 2:36 p.m. - Course: one lap - Distance: 40.26 km - Sunny and hot, 35 - 39° C (95 - 102° F) - 16 starters - 7 at the finish - 8 nations at the start.

1. Michel Théato (LUX) 2:59:45 - 2. Emile Champion (FRA) 3:04:17 - 3. Ernst Fast (SWE) 3:37:14 - 4. Eugène Besse (FRA) 4:00:43 - 5. Arthur Newton (USA) 4:04:12 - 6. Ronald MacDonald (CAN) n.t.. - 7. Richard Grant (USA) approx. 4:24:00



St. Louis 1904 - Another hot day - A marathon full of episodes

Fred Lorz got a muscle cramp after nine miles. He called for a car when the pain got greater and greater. Five miles before the stadium the pain was gone, and the driver said, we have passed everyone, now you can run again. Lorz did not catch the joke and really did get out and entered the stadium as the champion, was celebrated grandly and congratulated by Alice Roosevelt, the daughter of the president. The scandal was perfect-and Lorz was disqualified for life-but one year later he won the Boston Marathon honestly. The course was poor, only partially paved, the runners did not get any sponges or refreshments like is normal today. They became dehydrated, got cramps. Many cars followed the runners, often hindered the runners-after one accident the athletes had to run through a ditch, and of course through the exhaust.

Martin writes, that due to the cars, rather than under 3 hours, they now ran 3:28. The "true" winner, Thomas Hicks, was doped according to todays terms. His trainer said that drugs could be of great service for street races. When Hicks wanted water, his training gave him none but allowed him to wash out his mouth with distilled water. Seven miles before the stadium he gave him 1/1000 gram strychnine with an egg white. Four miles before the finish Hicks wanted to lie down, but his trainer did not allow it as he did not think he would get up again. Hicks also was given strychnine, 2 eggs and a sip of brandy at the 20 mile mark. They rubbed his body with warm water (they had a boiler in their car). Just before the finish he started to hallucinate and was given 2 more eggs and a sip of brandy and made it over the last two hills. He had lost 8 pounds. This story about Thomas Hicks, by the way, was told in full in the last programme of the 30th real,- BERLIN MARATHON, as his portrait was on the finisher medal of the world record marathon in 2003.

Finals (August 23) at 3:03 p.m. - Course: square course - 39.996 km (24.85 miles) - very warm up to 27.8° C (82 ° F.) - 32 starters - 15 at the finish (incl. disqualifications) - 5 nations at the start.

1.Thomas Hicks (USA) 3:28:53 - 2. Albert Corey (FRA) 3:34:52 - 3. Arthur Newton (USA) 3:47:33 - 4. Felix Carjaval (CUB) n.t.. (Frederick Lorz (USA) ca. 3:13:00 (disqualified as he only ran part of the marathon)



London 1908 - The drama of Dorando Pietri - the course honouring the queen and the princess

The Games were really supposed to have been held in Rome. But when on March 23, 1906 Mt. Vesuvios erupted, killing 2,000 people, Italy had other worries. Rome announced at the Intermediate Games in Athens in 1906 that they would not be able to host the games due to their reconstruction. So London received the 1908 Games.

The 1908 Games were record breaking, with 455 athletes competing in the track and field events alone. The Games were also no longer just an appendage of the World Fair, but were in the centre of the interest. The event venues also much improved, from the stadium to the marathon course. Respect was shown to the royal family by setting the marathon course from Windsor to London: directly in front of the east balcony of the Windsor Palace so that the palace children could follow the race to the royal box in the stadium. It was exactly 42.195 km - and it has remained that distance to today. Dorando Pietri reached the stadium first. The drama began when he did not know if he should go left or right. He ran the wrong way at first, the 90,000 spectators screamed in horror, even Queen Alexandra jumped up from her seat. They turned the Italia around, and when he tried to run he stumbled, ran, stumbled, at the end of his energy. He collapsed three or four times-and then the American John J. Hayes appeared at the entrance of the stadium, looking strong. A few of the officials could no longer stand to watch it, including Sir Conan Doyle, the famous detective novelist. But he did the wrong thing. It was not allowed to help Pietri, and he was disqualified. He did not receive a medal, but instead received a golden trophy from Queen Alexandra in the royal box-and since then is immortal in the track and field hall of fame. He thus became more famous than had he won several medals.

Megede tells a few other little stories. Hayes had already won the Yonkers Marathon in 1907. He worked in a department store and often practiced on the roof. The only German runner mentioned was F. Reiser, who dropped out. The favourite, the Native American Tom Longboat running for Canada, gave up after 17 miles.

Finals (24. July) - at 14.30 p.m. - Course: point to point- 42.195 km (26 miles, 385 yards) - warm and damp, 24,4 ° C (76 ° F.) - 55 at the start - 28 at the finish (incl. 1 disqualification) - 16 countries

1. John Hayes (USA) 2:55:18.4 - 2. Charles Hefferon (RSA) 2:56:06.0 - 3. Joseph Forshaw (USA) 2 :57 :10.4 - 4 Alton Welton (USA) 2 :59:44.4 - 5. William Wood (CAN) 3:01:44.0



Stockholm 1912 - Hot again - the last runner took over 54 years

Megede describes one episode of the marathon in Stockholm as follows: "The winner needed 2:36:54.8 hours for the 40.2km, the 35th and last runner took 54 years, eight months, six days and 8:32:20.3 hours (which of course did not count!). The runner from Japan saw a spectator on the course drinking orange juice, which took the last bit out of him as he was already drained by the heat. He went to the house where the spectator stood and asked him for a glass of orange juice. He was given some, as well as a bed for him to rest. Meanwhile the South African had won, while Francisco Lazaro of Portugal died in the hospital of heat stroke (he remained the only death in the Olympic marathon).

Shizo Kanakuri was missed at the finish, and the police were alarmed. He did not report back to his team until the next day. But 54 years later, the then 76-year old Kanakuri returned to Stockholm. His first destination was where they had been waiting in vain for him in 1912-at the finish of the Stockholm Olympic Stadium. When he reached him imaginary goal, 54 years, eight months, six days, eight hours, 32 minutes and 20.3 seconds had passed. He was congratulated on this record achievement. He retorted: "It was truly a long race, but worth it. I met my wife and have now 6 children and 10 grandchildren. All good things take time." No Germans participated.

Finals:(14. July) - at 13.48 p.m. - return course - 40.2 km - hot, around 30°C (86 ° F.) - 68 at the start - 34 at the finish - 19 countries

1. Kennedy McArthur (RSA) 2:36:54.8 - 2. Christian Gitsham (RSA) - 2:37:52.0 - 3. Gaston Strobino (USA) 2:38:42.5 - 4. Andrew Sockalexis (USA) 2:42:07.9



Antwerp 1920 - Johannes Kolehmainen crowns his career with the marathon victory

The champion from Stockholm, Johannes Kolehmainen (FIN), crowned his career with the marathon victory. He had to fight off the Estonian Lossmann more than he liked, who stayed close to him, just 12.8 seconds behind. At that time there were not yet any marathon championships in Estonia.. No Germans participated.

Finals (August 22) at 4:12 p.m. - Course: return course - 42.75 km- cold and misty - 48 at the start - 35 at the finish - 18 countries (incl. Newfoundland!)

1. Johannes Kolehmainen (FIN) 2:32:35.8 - Juri Lossmann ((EST) 2:32:48.6 - 3. Valerio Arri (ITA) 2:36:32.8 - 4. Auguste Broos (BEL) 2:39:25.8




Paris 1924 - the official marathon distance and the phenomenon of Clarence DeMar

Die 1924er Spiele sollten eigentlich in Amsterdam stattfinden, doch im Hinblick auf den geplanten Rücktritt von Baron de Coubertin, entschieden die Holländer daß zu Ehren von Coubertin die Spiele in Paris stattfinden sollten. Auch wurde vorher beim IAAF-Kongress festgelegt, daß die Standardstrecke des Marathon der Länge der Spiele in London haben sollte, Start und Ziel im Stadion zu sein hätten. Martin schreibt, es gab darüber aber keine großen Diskussionen. Man bringt das in Zusammenhang mit dem großen britischen Einfluß im IAAF-Gremium. Auch wurde festgelegt nicht mehr als sechs Teilnehmer pro Nation zuzulassen, ab 1932 wurde es dann auf 3 Teilnehmer pro Team reduziert. In Paris begann und endete der Marathon im Colombes Stadion. Die Laufstrecke war zum größten Teil Asphalt, aber auch Kopfsteinpflaster, ganz wenig war die Strecke ungepflastert.

The 1924 Games were supposed to take place in Amsterdam, but in light of the planned resignation of Baron de Coubertin, the Dutch decided that the Games should take place in Paris in honour of Coubertin. It was also decided at the IAAF congress that the standard course of the marathon was to be the distance from London, and that the start and finish had to be in the stadium. Martin writes that there were no great discussions about it, probably reflecting the great influence of the Brits in the IAAF board. It was also determined that no more than 6 runners could participate from each country, and starting in 1932 it was reduced to 3 participants per team. The marathon began and ended in the Colombes Stadium in Paris. The course was primarily asphalt, but also included some cobble stones and some roads without paving at all.

Megede writes: "The turn-around came at the turn-around", when the Finn Stenroos took the lead, increasing it to almost 6 minutes by the finish. The bronze medallist, Clarence DeMar (USA), was a phenomenon of his own: in 1911 he won the famous Boston Marathon, he participated in 1912 in Stockholm and in Amsterdam in1928. He had his 7th victory in Boston in 1930 at age 42. No Germans participated.

Finals (July 13) at 5:23 p.m. - Course: return course - 42.195 km - warm, windy - 58 at the start - 30 at the finish - 20 countries-

1. Albin Stenroos (FIN) 2:41:22.6 - 2. Romeo Bertini (ITA) 2 :47:19.6 - 3. Clarence DeMar (USA) 2:48:14.0 - 4. Lauri Halonen (FIN) 2 :49 :47.4 - 5. Samuel Ferris (GBR) 2:52:26.0



Amsterdam 1928 - victory for the French Colonist El Ouafi - Germans at the start

The victory by El Ouafi was the first marathon victory for an African-and it was only his second race. The Algerian who ran for France in Amsterdam only found out that he was the champion when he ripped the finishing tape. No one had informed him on what was going on along the course. He picked up the pace on the last part of the course, with Reyes from Chile, the first great marathon runner from South America, within view behind him.

The Japanese began their great marathon tradition here, with Yamada leading for a long time, coming in 4th at the end. The best German was Hans Stelges in 19th place.

Finals (August 5) at 3:15 p.m. - Course: return course with a loop - 42.195 km - cool, damp, cloudy 16.1° C - 69 at the start - 57 at the finish - 23 countries

1. Boughera El Ouafi (FRA) 2:32:57 - 2. Manuel Plaza Reyes (CHI) 2:33:23 - 3. Martti Marttelin (FIN) 2:35:02 - 4. Kanamatsu Yamada (JPN) 2:35:29 - 5. Joie Ray (USA) 2:36:04 - 6. Seiichiro Tsuda (JPN) 2:36:20 - ... ... 19 Hans Stelges 2:45:27 - ... ... 31 Paul Hempel - ... ... 46. Georg Hoerger - 47 Hans Schneithe - ... ... 50. Paul Gerhardt - ... ... dropped out: Franz Wanderer



Los Angeles 1932 - Zabala, the youngest Olympic marathon champion

The Argentinean Juan Carlos Zabala came to Europe as a 19-year-old and won his marathon debut in Kashau in a sensational 2:33:19.0. His greatest opponent in Los Angeles was the Brit Sam Ferris, who was considered to be unbeatable. But at the turning point (1:20:00.0) Zabal already was leading ahead of the Finns Virtanen and Toivonen. Virtanen passed Zabala at 30 km, but then collapsed and shortly thereafter dropped out. But Ferris then picked up the pace and reached Zabala, who was able to save the finish, however. In 15th place was the German Paul de Bruyn, who lived in the USA.

Finals: (August 7) at 3.38 p.m. - right-angled course - 42.195 km - 22.2 ° C. at the start, clear skies - 29 am start - 20 at the finish - 15 countries

1.Juan Zabala (ARG) 2:31:36 - 2. Samuek Ferris (GBR) 2:31:55 - 3. Armas Toivonen (JPN) 2:32:12 - 4. Duncan McLoed Wright (GBR) 2:32:41 - 5. Seiichiro Tsuda (JPN) 2:35:42 - 6. Ombai Kin (JPN) 2:37:28.0 - ... ... 15. Paul de Bruyn 2 :52 :39.0



Berlin 1936 - Kitei Son (Kee Chung-sohn) runs and wins for Japan

Zabala wanted to repeat his victory from Los Angeles and paid no heed to his rivals. He led at 10km with a 1-minute lead ahead of the Portuguese Dias. At the half marathon Zabala appeared to be tired, but was still leading in 1:11:29, followed by Son and Harper 50 seconds behind. At 28km Son reached Zabala, who shortly thereafter collapsed, started up again, but then finally quit the race. Son then broke away from Harper as well, made a final sprint and became the first man to beat 2:30 at the Olympic Games. Harper came in second, and Nan from Japan won bronze. Both of the Japanese medallists were actually from Korea, Japan having previously taken over Korea. Son ran in shoes that were split at the front, which drew great attention. Kee Chung-sohn returned numerous times to Berlin during his campaigning for the Olympic Games in Seoul. He received the great honour of being the last torchbearer to carry the flame in to the stadium in 1988. The attempt was made in the 1980s to secretly alter the plaque in the Olympic stadium at the marathon gate by replacing the initials from Japan with Korea.

Finals: (August 9) at 3:00 p.m. - return course- 42.195 km - 24 ° C - 56 at the start - 42 at the finish - 27 countries -

1. Kitei Son (Sohn Kee-chung) (JPN) 2:29:19.2 - 2. Ernest Harper (GBR) 2:31:23.2 - 3. Shoryu Nan (Nam Sung-yong) (JPN) 2:31::42.0 4. Erkki Tamila (FIN) 2:32:45.0 - ... ... 29. Ernst Braesicke 2:59:33.4 - dropped out: Paul de Bruyn and Franz Barsicke



London 1948 - Almost a repeat of the drama from 1908 in London-another victory for Argentina

The drama of Dorando Pietri in London in 1908 was almost repeated. The first one to reach the stadium was the Belgian Etienne Gailly, white as chalk and almost walking. Shortly thereafter the Argentinean Cabrera appeared, who passed the Belgian, then moving in a trance, and became Olympic champion like his countryman Zabala in Los Angeles. The Brit Richards also passed the Belgian and came in second. Gailly at least made it alone across the finish and secured the bronze medal.

German runners were not yet readmitted to the Olympic Games in London.

Finals (August 7) at 3:00 p.m. - Course - 42.195 km - 22.8 ° C, damp, windy - 41 at the start- 30 at the finish - 21 countries

1. Delfo Cabrera (ARG) 2:34:51.6 - Thomas Richards (GBR) 2:35:07.6 - 3. Etienne Gailly (BEL) 2:35:33.6 - 4. Johannes Coleman (RSA) 2:36:06.0



Helsinki 1952 - Emil Zatopek, the three-time champion

What Paavo Nurmi, the running legend, was not able to achieve due to his disqualification, Emil Zatopek took care of in one sweep, winning the 5000m, 10,000m and the marathon in Paavo, Nurmis home town. For Zatopek, the marathon was a debut. That made 5 medals for Zatopek, following his two medals in London (silver in the 5000m and gold in the 10,000m).

Finals (July 27) at 3:28 p.m. - return course - 42.195 km - 18.0 ° C. - 66 at the start - 53 at the finish - 32 countries

1. Emil Zatopek (CSR) 2:23:03.2 - 2. Reinaldo Gomo (ARG) 2:25:35.0 - 3. Gustaf Janson (SWE) 2:26:07.0 - 4. Choi Yoon-chill (KOR) 2:26:36.0 - 5. Veiko Karvonen (FIN) 2:26:41.8 - 6. Delfo Cabrera (ARG) 2:26:42.4 - ... ... 30. Dieter Engelhardt 2:39:37.2 - ... ... 43. Ludwig Warnemünde 2:50:00.0



Melbourne 1956 - Alain Mimouns victory for France -Zatopek sixth

Mimoun, like Delfo Cabrera and Emil Zatopek before him, entered his first marathon race-and won. In Melbourne, the 31-time French champion appeared from the beginning on in the lead group, and somewhere between 25 and 30 km he decided the race in his favour. Zatopek came in 6th and Lothar Beckert 19th.

Finals: (December 1) at 3:15 p.m. - return course - 42.195 km 27.0° C. - 46 at the start - 33 at the finish -23 countries

1. Alain Mimoun (FRA) 2:25:00 - 2. Franjo Mihalic (YUG) 2:26:32 - 3- Veiko Karvonen (FIN) 2:27:47 - 4. Lee Chang-Hoon (KOR) 2:28:45 5. Yoshiaki Kawashima (JPN) 2:29:34 - 6. Emil Zatopek (CSR) 2:29:34 - ... ...19. Lothar Beckert 2:42:10



Rome 1960 - Abebe Bikila - Barefoot in training, barefoot to Olympic gold

The Finnish coach knew what Bikila could achieve. In the Ethiopian highlands (over 2400m), Bikila ran the 42.195 km barefoot in 2:21:23:0. It was thus no wonder for Niskanen that Abebe Bikila also ran the new Olympic record in Rome barefoot in 2:15. It was an impressive picture when Abebe Bikila ran underneath the ancient Constantine arch to the finish in the Roman darkness. The African triumph was complete with a second-place finish by Rhadi from Marocco.

Finals (September 10) at 17:30 p.m. - triangular course - 42.195 km - 23.2° C. - 69 at the start - 62 at the finish - 35 countries

1. Abebe Bikila (ETH) 2:15:16.2 2. Rhadi ben Abdesselem (MAR) 2:15:41.6 - 3. Barrington Magee (NZL) 2:17:18.2 - ... ... 28. Bruno Bartholome 2:28:39.0 - ... ... 56. Lothar Beckert 2:40:10 57. Günter Havenstein 2:41:14.0



Tokyo 1964 - Abebe Bikila wins the gold medal for the second time

Emil Zatopek, like Juan Zabala and Alain Mimoun before him, did not succeed in repeating his marathon triumph. Bikila had had an appendectomy on September 16, and no one thought he had a chance of defending his title. The 70,000 spectators in the stadium could not believe their eyes when suddenly Bikila, this time in shoes, ran through the finish as the clear victor, then moved over to the grass and began stretching. The spectators went wild when a few minutes later a Japanese runner entered the stadium. Shortly thereafter the Brit Basil Heatley entered, whose stride became longer and longer. He passed the runner from Japan and took home the silver medal. It is worth mentioning that the Australian Ron Clarke, world record holder in the 10000m, led up to 10 km, but then finished in 10th place. The Olympic champion in the 10000m, Mills (USA), came in 14th.

Finals (October 21) 3:00 p.m. - return course - 42.195 km - 20 ° C. - 68 at the start - 58 at the finish - 35 countries

1. Abebe Bikila (ETH) 2:12.11.2 - Basil Heatley (GBR) 2:16:19.2 - 3. Kokichi Tsuburaya (JPN) 2:16:22.8 - 4. Brian Kilby (GBR) 2:17;02.4 - 9. Ronald Clarke (AUS) 2:20:26.8 - ... ... 24. Heinrich Hagen 2:26:39.8 - ... ... 38. Gerhard Hönicke 2:33:23.0 - 39. Manfred Naumann 2:33:42.0



Mexico 1968 - Another victory for Ethiopia- Mamo Wolde comes as a surprise

In 1956, Mamo Wolde began his Olympic career running the 400m and 1500m, in 1968 he stepped in for Bikila, who had knee problems and a cold, and dropped out. Gaston Roelants, the Olympic champion in the steeplechase in 1964, led the field for a while, until Wolde picked up the pace at 30km. He had a three-minute lead at the finish, and once again the Japanese were represented among the medal winners. Germanys marathon hero Manfred Steffny came in a strong 17th place. Naftali Temu, the Olympic champion in the 10000m came in 19th in 2:32:36.0. On March 22, 1969, shortly after the Mexico Games, Bikila was in a car accident and was severely injured. Paralysed, he spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. He died on October 22, 1973, after he had been an honorary guest at the Munich Olympics.

Finals (October 20) at 3:00 p.m. - point to point course - 42.195 km - 22.8° C. - 75 at the start - 57 at the finish - 41 countries

1. Mamo Wolde (ETH) 2:20:26.4 - 2. Kenji Kimihara (JPN) 2:23:31.0 - 3. Michael Ryan (NZL) 2:23:45.0 4. Ismail Ackay (TUR) 2:25:18.8 - 5. William Adcocks (GBR) 2:2:25:33.0 - ... ... 15. Jürgen Busch 2:30:42.6 - ... ... 17. Manfred Steffny 2:31:23.8 - ... ... 33. Hubert Riesner (SCC) 2:41:29.0



Munich 1972 - Frank Shorter second in the stadium, but nonetheless champion

In Munich, after protests from several countries, the English Garden had to be paved so that the marathon runners would not have to run on simple gravel paths. Lutz Philipp took the lead right after the start, but by 5km he already lagged a few seconds behind the 30-strong leading group. Mamo Wolde, the defending champion was among the leaders. But starting at the 15km, Frank Shorter was in the lead. Mamo Wolde desperately tried to approach him, but under the thundering cheers of the crowd, Shorter did not release his lead. A 16-year-old German spectator who smuggled his way down to the track with a race number and ran into the stadium, "stealing" the applause due to Shorter, unfortunately marred this great race. Mamo Wolde was able to win a cherished bronze medal. Manfred Steffny came in 31st in a good time of 2:24:25.4.

Finals (September 10) at 15:00 p.m. - return course - 42.195 km - 21° C. - 74 at the start - 62 at the finish - 39 countries

1. Frank Shorter (USA) 2:12:19.8 - 2. Karl Lismont (BEL) 2:14:31.8 - 3. Mamo Wolde (ETH) 2:15:08.4 - 4. Kenneth Moore (USA) 2:15:39.8 - 5. Kenji Kimihara (JPN) 2:16:27.0 - ... ... 16. Paul Angenvoorth 2:20:19.0 - ... ... 25. Eckard Lesse 2:22:49.6- ... ... 31. Manfred Steffny 2:24:25.4 - 32. Lutz Philipp 2:24:25.4



Montreal 1976 - Triumph for Waldemar Cierpinski

Ten kilometres before the finish it was finally clear that Waldemar Cierpinski, the ex-steeplechase runner (26 years earlier) from Halle (b. in Neugattersleben), was on his way to a surprise victory. In the world class time of 2:09:55, he left the entire world elite behind him, including the winner from Munich in 1972. Shorter had left his mark on the race for quite a while, but he had nothing left to offer against the great physical reserves of Cierpinski. Bill Rodgers led until km 10. It was a fast pace the entire race. The great Lasse Viren, the 10000m Olympic champion was 5th.

Finals (July 31) at 3:30 - square course - 42.195 km - 25 ° C. - 67 at the start - 60 at the finish - 36 countries

1. Waldemar Cierpinski 2:09.0 - 2. Frank Shorter (USA) 2:10:45.8 - 3. Karl Lismont (BEL) 2:11:12.6 - 4. Donald Kardong (USA) 2:11:15.8 - 5. Lasse Viren (FIN) 2:13:10.8 - ... ... 54. Günther Mielke 2:;35:44.8



Moscow 1980 - "Be courageous men, name your sons Waldemar"! - Cierpinski repeats his victory

"Where is Behle?" is one famous cry made by the radio reporter Bruno Morawetz at a cross country skiing race. "Name your sons Waldemar!" is the other, made by the legendary radio reporter Heinz-Florian Oertel as he documented Waldemar Cierpinskis victory and second gold medal in Moscow.

Cierpinski caught up with the famous Abebe Bikila from Ethiopia. Abebe and Cierpinski proved the contrary to the saying "They never come back" by repeating their great victories. No one can say how many sons were named Waldemar afterwards, but Waldemar Cierpinski certainly was lifted to the Olympia of the running legends.

The famous Lasse Viren did not make it to the finish, and the tough Brits also were not able to bring any of their 3 runners across the finish.

Finals (August 1) at 17:16 p.m. - return course -42.195 km - 26 ° C. - 74 at the start - 53 at the finish - 40 countries

1. Waldemar Cierpinski 2:11:03.0 - Gerhardus Nijboer (NED) 2:11:20.0 - 3. Setymkul Dzhumanazarow (URS) 2:11:35.0 - ... ... 11. Joachim Truppel 2:14:55 - ... ... Jürgen Eberding 2:18:04 -



Los Angeles 1984 - Three Europeans in front - Carlos Lopes the big winner

Carlos Lopes was alone on the last 6 kilometres, the favourites having run each other down earlier. The favourite Rob de Castella, world champion in 1983 went down, the Africans and Japanese had to make way for the Europeans. Lopes victory was in a truly world class time. The German Ralf Salzmann held in strong up to the 30km demonstrating his courage.

Finals (August 12) at 5:00 p.m. - point to point course - 42.195 km - 23.2° C. - 107 at the start - 78 at the finish - 59 countries

1. Carlos Lopes (POR) 2:09:21 - John Trecy (IRL) 2:09.56 - 3. Charles Spedding (GBR) 2:09:58 - 4. Takeshi Soh (JPN) 2:10:55 - 5. Rob de Castella (AUS) 2:11:09 - 6. James Ikangaa (TAN) 2 :11 :10 - ... ... 18. Ralf Salzmann 2 :15 :29



Seoul 1988 - Gelindo Bordin - also a white "Kenyan"

Up to 40 km it looked like Ahmed Salah from Djibouti would be the winner, but then Gelindo Bordin, the European champion from 1986 made an attack and won. The world champion from 1987, Wakiihuri, came in second. Steve Moneghetti, the winner of the BERLIN MARATHON in 1990 came in 5th.

Finals (October 2) at 14:35 p.m. - return course- 42.195 km - 24,5 ° C. - 118 at the start - 98 at the finish 66 countries -

1. Gelindo Bordin (ITA) 2:10:32 - 2. Douglas Wakiihuri (KEN) 2:10:47 - 3. Ahmed Salah Hussein (DJI) 2:10:59 - 4. Takeyuki Nakayama (JPN) 2:11:05 - 5 Stephen Moneghetti (AUS) 2:11:49 - 6. Charles Spedding (GBR) 2:12:19 - ... ... Ralf Salzmann 2:16:54,24 - Herbert Steffny did not start -




Barcelona 1992 - Stephan Freigang won the bronze medal

Stephan Freigang (SC Cottbus) became the second German to win an Olympic medal (after Cierpinski) in the marathon, making his third place finish even more so surprising and pleasing. Freigang, the 25-year-old fourth place finisher of the BERLIN MARATHON in 1990 in 2:09.45, ran a great race against the Japanese in his only-6th marathon appearance. Just 200 metres before the finish they tried to tear away his medal, but Freigang reacted well.

Finals (August 9) at 6:30 p.m. - point to point course - 42.195 km - 26.6 ° C. - 112 at the start - 87 at the finish - 73 countries

1. Hwang Young-do (KOR) 2:13:23 - 2. Koichi Morishita (JPN) 2:13:45 - 3. Stephan Freigang 2:14:00 - Takeyuki Nakayama (JPN) 2:14:02 - Salvatore Bettiol (ITA) 2:14:15 - ... ... 49. Konrad Dobler 2:23:44 - Jörg Peter no start.



Atlanta 1996 - Josiah Thugwane - victory for South Africa

There were only about 7,000 spectators in the stadium when the marathon runners arrived. The Americans preferred to watch the race at home on TV. They had set the start so early as they expected high temperatures. It was the most exciting finish between three runners-only 8 seconds separated first from third place.

Finals (August 4) at 7:05 a.m. - lap course - 42.195 km - 23.0 ° C. - 124 at the start - 111 at the finish - 79 countries

1. Josiah Thugwane (RSA) 2:12:36 - 2. Lee Bong-ju (KOR) 2:12:39 - 3. Erick Wainaina (KEN) 2:12:44 - 4. Martin Fiz (ESP) 2:13:20 - 5. Richard Nerurkar (GBR) 2:13:39 - 6. German Silva (MEX) 2:2:14:29 - 7. Stephen Moneghetti (AUS) 2:14:35 - ... ... 48. Konrad Dobler 2:21:12 - Stephan Freigang dropped out -



Sydney 2000 - Gold for Ethiopia with Gezahgne Abera

The African runners triumphed in all the medals in Sydney, Ethiopia and Kenya battling them out among themselves. After the victory of Abebe Bikila, a marathon win was the greatest victory for Ethiopia and third place a blessing for the country. Erick Wainaina improved over his time in Atlanta, coming in second, and in Athens he want to win.... Michael Fietz came in 20th and Carsten Eich landed in 54th place

Finals: 1. Gezahgne Abera (ETH) 2:10:11 - 2. Erick Wainaina (KEN) 2:10:31 - 3. Tesfaye Tola 2:11:10 - 4. Jon Brown (GBR) 2:11:17 - 5. Giacomo Leone (ITA) 2:12:14 - 6. Martin Fiz (ESP) 2:13:06 - 7. Abdelkathe el Mouaziz (MAR) 2:13:49 - ... ... 37. Michael Fietz - ... ... 54. Carsten Eich



The marathon results of the German men at the Olympic Games is actually quite excellent with two gold medals and the bronze medals.

But the middle field is totally missing, if you can call 4th to 10th place that. That is where the Germans most often placed in all of the other events over the 104-year history. According to the statistics, there were as good as no runners from the beginning of the century until the 30s, but there is no clear reason for that as the long distances have always been a favourite in Germany.

One must look at it internationally and simply be pleased with the great development and the global popularity of the marathon all around the world-and look forward to the two Olympic marathon races in the cities of the antiquities.

Horst Milde

Ekkehard zur Megede:
Die Geschichte der olympischen Leichtathletik

David E, Martin & Roger W.H. Gynn:
The Olympic Marathon

Womens 800m (Historic Olympic Series I):
Mens 1500m (Historic Olympic Series II:)
Mens 800m (Historic Olympic Series III):
Womens 1500m (Historic Olympic Series IV):
Womens 5000m (Historic Olympic Series V):
Mens 5000m (Historic Olympic Series VI):
Womens 10.000m (Historic Olympic Series VII):
Mens 10.000m (Historic Olympic Series VIII):
Mens 3000m steeplechase (Historic Olympic Series IX):
Womens marathon (Historic Olympic Series X):

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