The Games of the III Olympiad: St. Louis, 1904
The 1904 Olympic Games had originally been slated for Chicago, but when the organizers of the World's Fair and Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis announced their plans to hold an international athletic competition in the same year, Chicago organizers agreed to let St. Louis have the Olympics rather than hold competing meets.
As in Paris, the Games were spread out over several months, but the Americans made them a featured event of the Fair, not the mere side show they had been in Paris. Three hundred and nine events were held between July and November, though only eighty-eight would be recognized by the IOC. Unfortunately, the Games were only slightly more international than an American championship. Of the 617 athletes who participated, 525 were American and 41 were Canadian. The other fifty-one represented ten additional countries. Europe, home of many record holders and world-class athletes, was not well represented. The British and others were distracted by the Russo-Japanese War, and the French, it is said, were stinging over their foolish sale of the Louisiana Territory, the centenary of which was being celebrated at the St. Louis Exposition. Even Pierre de Coubertin stayed at home.
In the midst of these heavily American Games, on August 30, thirty-two runners from five nations lined up to compete in the most difficult Olympic Marathon in history. To begin with, the organizers knew virtually nothing about staging a marathon. The race was scheduled to be run in the middle