Olympic Marathon: A Centennial History of the Games' Most Storied Race

By Charlie Lovett | Go to book overview

4
The Intercalated Games: Athens, 1906

At the 1896 Olympic Games, King George of Greece had suggested that his country serve as the permanent host of the Games. Coubertin tactfully pretended not to understand the suggestion, but shortly thereafter he mollified the Greeks by suggesting that Athens host an interim games two years after each Olympiad. The Athens Games of 1906 were the only such "Intercalated Games" ever held, partly because of later political unrest in Greece, but they were important in rescuing the Olympics from the side- show they had become in 1900 and 1904.

As in 1896, the Games were once again an event in their own right, and spectators played a central role in their success. For the first time many national teams, including the team from the United States, received official sanction from their countries. Previous Olympic Games had featured fractured American teams composed of individual groups from colleges and athletic clubs. The 1906 U.S. team was chosen by an American Olympic Committee, with President Teddy Roosevelt serving as honorary chairman. The team's trip to Greece was financed by a nationwide fund drive, making this the first real U.S. Olympic team.

Twenty nations were represented by 884 athletes at the 1906 Games, and this expansion in the field of athletes was reflected in the makeup of the marathon race, which featured fifty-three runners from fifteen nations. Once again, the marathon race captured the imagination of the Greeks; all of Athens longed for a Greek victor. This time, the offers to any Greek who

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