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

By Charlie Lovett | Go to book overview

8
The Games of the VIII Olympiad: Paris, 1924

In 1924 the Olympic Games returned to Paris, where Pierre de Coubertin hoped they would be given better treatment than in 1900. Indeed, Paris did redeem itself, hosting a splendid Games. In contrast with the empty stands at the 1900 Games, the art of scalping Olympic tickets was invented in Paris in 1924. These were the games of Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell of Great Britain (as immortalized with some Hollywood additions in Chariots of Fire), but most of all, they were the games of the Finns, and especially Paavo Nurmi. The Finnish team won ten gold medals in the track and field competition, with Nurmi taking four, despite being kept out of the 10,000 meters by his team officials.

The marathon was held on July 13, and not surprisingly, the weather was hot. For this reason the start of the race was delayed from 3:00 P.M. until 5:00 P.M. in hopes that the air would be cooler by then. The course measured the now standard 26 miles 385 yards; that length had been adopted by the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) in 1921. The IAAF had been formed in 1912, and was responsible, as it still is, for the rules governing international track and field competitions.

Running in Paris for the United States was once again Clarence DeMar, who had competed in 1912. DeMar had won his third Boston marathon in a row, and his fourth over all (he would eventually win seven), earlier that year. In 1924, Boston, like the Olympics, adopted the standard distance of

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