Most of America’s top middle-distance men were present, save for Eli Parsons of Yale, the 1904 IC4A champion. There were several theories as to the favorites, but Jim Lightbody, a young Chicago runner, was not one of the prominent names mentioned. At the start, Harvey Cohn took the lead, followed by Emil Breitkreutz and German’s Johannes Runge, with Lightbody running last in the early going. At the 400 metre mark, Runge took over the lead, as Cohn flagged badly, and Lightbody began a sustained drive, passing the entire field on the outside. Coming into the final stretch, Breitkreutz and George Underwood led, but Lightbody was gaining fast. He eventually pulled away to win by two yards, with Breitkreutz holding onto second until the last yards. He was then passed by Howard Valentine, who closed quickly. This was probably the top race of the 1904 Olympics, as several runners were so badly spent they were carried from the track in exhaustion. Runge was hampered because earlier in the day he had competed in the 800 metre handicap event, not understanding the English instructions, and thinking it was the Olympic final.