| Event type

Marathon, Men

Date 9 August 1936 — 15:00
LocationOlympiastadion, Reichssportfeld, Berlin
Participants56 from 27 countries
Format42,195 metres (26 miles, 385 yards) out-and-back.

The 1936 marathon course began at the Berlin stadium and started out thru a forested section of Berlin. At 13 km., the runners ran 17 km. on an absolutely straight concrete highway, the Avusrennstrecke, before returning to the forests, to eventually end in the stadium. Six nations, Finland, Great Britain, Japan, Peru, South Africa, and the United States, entered a full complement of three runners. The Japanese team consisted of three Korean runners. After the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-05, Japan had occupied Korea, and forced their athletes to compete under the Japanese flag. They were led by Son Gi-Jeong, who was also required to race under a Japanese version of his name, Kitei Son. Son had run 12 marathons since 1933, winning nine of them, and never placing below third. In Tokyo, on 3 November 1935, he set the world record of 2-26:42, and among his 12 races, he had broken 2-30 seven times.

The race began at 3:00 PM, with the weather dry and clear, but not overly warm (22° C. [72° F.]). Son was never far from the lead and by the midway point, he and Britain’s Ernie Harper had moved into second and third, trailing the defending champion, Juan Carlos Zabala. But Zabala tripped and fell at 28 km. and Harper and Son passed him. He dropped out shortly thereafter. By 33 km. Son had pulled away and he eventually won the race by almost two minutes, Harper winning the silver medal.

Son was a proud Korean. When the Japanese anthem was played at his victory ceremony, he bowed his head and refused to acknowledge it. He told reporters that he was ashamed that he had to run for Japan. The next day, a leading Korean newspaper showed a photo of the victory ceremony, but covered the Japanese rising sun from his uniform singlet. For that, the Japanese jailed several of its employees and closed down the newspaper. Korea did not forget its first Olympic champion. In 1988, when Seoul hosted the Olympic Games, the Olympic torch was brought into the stadium by Son Gi-Jeong, now running proudly under the Korean flag.

1382Son Gi-JeongJPN2-29:19.2GoldOB1
2265Ernie HarperGBR2-31:23.2Silver
3380Nam Sung-YongJPN2-31:42.0Bronze2
4169Erkki TamilaFIN2-32:45.0
5168Väinö MuinonenFIN2-33:46.0
6653Johannes ColemanRSA2-36:17.0
7267Donald RobertsonGBR2-37:06.2
8654Jackie GibsonRSA2-38:04.0
9170Mauno TarkiainenFIN2-39:33.0
10581Thore EnochssonSWE2-43:12.0
117Stelios KyriakidisGRE2-43:20.0
12212Nouba KhaledFRA2-45:34.0
13582Henry PalméSWE2-46:08.4
14498Franz TuschekAUT2-46:29.0
1580Jimmy BartlettCAN2-48:21.4
16210Émile DuvalFRA2-48:39.8
17559Manuel DiasPOR2-49:00.0
18755Johnny KelleyUSA2-49:32.4
19667Miloslav LuňákTCH2-50:26.0
2048Felix MeskensBEL2-51:19.0
21669Ján TakáčTCH2-51:20.0
22496Rudolf WöberAUT2-51:28.0
23563Ludovic GalROU2-55:02.0
2449Robert NevensBEL2-55:51.0
25138Anders Hartington AndersenDEN2-56:31.0
26527Gabriel MendozaPER2-57:17.8
27655Tommy LalandeRSA2-57:20.0
28445Artūrs MotmillersLAT2-58:02.0
29839Eduard BraesekeGER2-59:33.4
30Percy WyerCAN3-00:11.0
31211Fernand LeheurteurFRA3-01:11.0
32497Wilhelm RothmayerAUT3-02:32.0
33544Bronisław GancarzPOL3-03:11.0
34619Max BeerSUI3-06:26.0
35528Guillermo SuárezPER3-08:18.0
3662Boris HaralampievBUL3-08:53.8
37321Arul SwamiIND3-10:44.0
38668Josef ŠulcTCH3-11:47.4
39620Franz EhaSUI3-18:17.0
40125Wang ZhenglinCHN3-25:36.4
41422Stane ŠpornYUG3-30:47.0
42529José FaríasPER3-33:24.0
DNF95Juan AcostaCHI
DNF838Franz BarsickeGER
DNF754Tarzan BrownUSA
DNF336Giannino BulzoneITA
DNF840Paul de BruynGER
DNF543Kazimierz FiałkaPOL
DNF337Aurelio GenghiniITA
DNF756Billy McMahonUSA
DNF560Jaime MendesPOR
DNF266Bert NorrisGBR
DNF32Luis OlivaARG
DNF381Tamao ShiwakuJPN
DNF81Harold WebsterCAN
DNF33Juan Carlos ZabalaARG
DNS47Jean ChapelleBEL
DNS81Vincent CallardCAN
DNS132Jorge PerryCOL
DNS621Ernst HirtSUI