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

By Charlie Lovett | Go to book overview

6
The Games of the V Olympiad: Stockholm, 1912

The Olympic Games of 1912 were held in Stockholm, appropriate for a Games that featured superb performances by the first of the great Scandinavian distance runners, Finland's Hannes Kolehmainen, who won the 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters, and cross-country races. They were also the Olympics of Jim Thorpe, the Native American who won both the pentathlon and the decathlon.

Sixty-eight runners from nineteen nations started the marathon on July 14, another oppressively hot day for the race. Fully half of the competitors dropped out before the finish because of the heat. Most of the runners wore handkerchiefs or white hats for protection from the brutal Scandinavian sun.

The race included what American organizers felt was the strongest U.S. marathon team ever assembled. Joseph Forshaw of the United States, who had won bronze in London, was joined by Clarence DeMar, whose 2:21:39 in the 1911 Boston Marathon (a race of about twenty-four miles) had improved Tom Longboat's course record by three minutes. Mike Ryan, the captain of the marathon team, had won the 1912 Boston Marathon, setting a new course and American record. Two Native Americans, Andrew Sockalexis and Louis Tewanina, were also on the team. The team totalled twelve runners, the last qualifier being young Gaston Strobino, who had been added when another runner decided not to make the trip.

The American marathon team was coached by John Hayes, the winner of the London race. But marathoners are individuals, and coaching them as

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