Gunnar Åkerlund and Hans Wetterström were, among other titles, the reigning Olympic and World Champions in the K-2 10000 and favorites to repeat their victory at the 1952 Summer Olympics. Their strongest challengers included Ivar Mathisen and Knut Østby of Norway, the 1948 Olympic K-2 10000 and 1950 World K-2 1000 runners-up, and Ingvard Nørregaard and Svend Frømming of Denmark, the 1950 World K-2 10000 silver medalists. It was Yrjö Hietanen and Kurt Wires of Finland who led the race for the entire course, however, the latter of whom was the 1948 Olympic runner-up in the K-1 10000. Near the end, the Swedes undertook a strong drive to overtake the Finns that nearly succeeded, but Hietanen and Wires were able to respond in kind and just barely claimed the gold medal at the finish line, with only 0.4 seconds to spare. The 1948 champions, therefore, had to settle for silver, while the Hungarian duo of Ferenc Varga and József Gurovits captured a surprise bronze medal. Hietanen and Wires, meanwhile, would go on to win another gold medal against Sweden in the K-2 1000 the following day.