| Event type

Marathon, Men

Date 1 May 1906 — 15:05
LocationPanathinaiko Stadio, Athina
Participants53 from 16 countries
Format41,860 metres (26.01 miles) point-to-point.

Fourteen countries were represented in what was certainly the most international field ever in a marathon to that date. The course was roughly the same as in 1896, measuring this time about 41,860 metres. The Greeks hoped to duplicate the finish of 1896, when Spyridon Louis had provided the home crowd with a Greek winner. In preparation, the Greeks held a trial race on 17 March 1906, from which they selected their Olympic marathoners. The race was won by Anastasios Koutoulakis, with Dimitrios Kantzias second. Although he had finished second, Kantzias was noted to be the Greek favorite.

The marathoners were transported to Marathon the day before the race (30 April [17 April]) and spent the night at the residence of Foreign Minister Skouzes. The route was staffed at one mile intervals with five soldiers, who were enlisted to provide medical supervision. Ambulances, military surgeons, nurses, and stretchers were available at five mile intervals. The route was kept clear by police, assisted by a battalion of infantry, two squadrons of cavalry, and one of gendermerie. The head timekeeper was a lieutenant of the cavalry who rode at the head of the pack, and changed his mount four times.

The 1906 Olympic marathon race started at 3:05 PM (1505) on 1 May [18 April], a very warm day (27° C. [81° F.]). The starter was G. Karamaliklis. The early lead was held by George Blake (AUS) and William Frank (USA). At about 25 km., Billy Sherring of Canada passed both runners and dominated the remainder of the race, winning by almost seven minutes. As he passed within two miles of the stadium, a cannon was fired at the Rizarian School to notify the spectators in the Panathenaic Stadium.

When Sherring finished, the disappointment of the Greek crowd was almost palpable, but Prince George greeted him at the stadium entrance and, reminiscent of Louis and 1896, ran with him the entire way to the finish. Sherring finished the race carrying his shoes in his hands. Following Sherring was another foreigner, John Svanberg of Sweden, a well-known distance runner in his native country, who passed Frank near the stadium to finish second. Frank held on to get third place. Blake fell back to finish sixth.

One athlete who did not finish was the Italian, Dorando Pietri, who in 1908 would be involved in the most famous finish in Olympic marathon history when, near collapse, he was helped across the line by the British Olympic officials. He would be disqualified.

The Canadians had tried to send two marathoners, Sherring, and Jack Caffrey, who had twice beaten Sherring in the past year in Canadian distance races. But the proposal to raise money by a civic fund in Hamilton was vetoed by the City Council, and a public concert turned up only $75, not nearly enough for the trip for either man. Sherring was given the money and, on a tip from a bartender, William “Butch” Collier, bet it on a racehorse named Cicely, at six-to-one. Cicely won and Sherring had enough money to go to Athens. He went to Athens over two months early and trained continually on the road between Marathon and Athens. During his stay in Greece, he lost over 20 pounds from his voracious training. One newspaper report of his training noted, “Word was received here today that Sherring, the famous Hamilton sprinter, broke all records in a trial run over the Marathon course at Athens, and will go faster on the day of the race.”

1617Billy SherringCAN2-51:23.6Gold
2643John SvanbergSWE2-58:20.8Silver
3195William FrankUSA3-00:46.8Bronze
4691Gustaf TörnrosSWE3-01:00.0
533Ioannis AlepousGRE3-09:25.4
653George BlakeAUS3-09:35.0
7358Konstantinos KarvelasGRE3-15:54.0
8582André RoffiFRA3-17:49.8
9436Hermann MüllerGER3-21:00.0
10487Christos NtavarisGRE
11133Georgios ChountoumadisGRE
12193Joe ForshawUSA
13476Vladimiros NegrepontisGRE
14124James CormackGBR3-35:00.0
15472Arnošt NejedlýBOH3-40:00.2
DNF824Felix KwietonAUT
DNF378Jules LesageBEL
DNF396Valdemar LorentzenDEN
DNF403Arthur Pitt-MarsonEGY
DNF55Émile BonheureFRA
DNF145John DalyGBR
DNF635Robert SenneckeGER
DNF11Andreas AndreadisGRE
DNFSpyridon BelokasGRE
DNF446V. BoulakakisCRT
DNF173Nikolaos DialektosGRE
DNF174T. DionysiotisGRE
DNF545Christos FerarolakisCRT
DNFG. FotakisGRE
DNF295Michail GiannarakisCRT
DNF279Konstantinos IoannouGRE
DNF341Dimitrios KantziasGRE
DNF359V. KoskorisGRE
DNF347Ioannis KousoulidisGRE
DNF347Anastasios KoutoulakisGRE
DNF449Nikolaos MalintretosCRT
DNF444Christos ManarolakisCRT
DNF445M. MantakasCRT
DNFG. MaragkkoudakisGRE
DNF413Xenofon MilonakisGRE
DNF565Panagiotis PolimenosGRE
DNF581Michail RossidisGRE
DNF648G. SolidakisGRE
DNF647G. StamoulisGRE
DNF690Tassos TopsidellisGRE
DNF693Alkiviadis TzelepopoulosGRE
DNF90S. VelliotisGRE
DNF73Evangelos VolanakisCRT
DNF850Dorando PietriITA
DNFAdolf ToblerSUI
DNF72Thure BergvallSWE
DNF623Mike SpringUSA
DNF205Bob FowlerUSA
DNS496A. OlsenDEN
DNS320A. I. KyrillosGRE
DNS676Ernst SamuelsonSWE
DNS242Elwood HughesCAN
DNS484Eugene NielsenDEN
DNS146John Fowler-DixonGBR
DNS334I. KyriachouGRE
DNS481N. NikoloudakisGRE
DNS63Vladimir ValentaBOH
DNS244 IdraiosGRE
DNS675Sven StrömbergSWE
DNS298I. GiannichostasGRE
DNS405Raoul MatetFRA
DNS689Y. ShakhotinRUS
DNS821Periklis KakousisGRE
DNS71Christian BuschGER
DNS329Joseph KrämerGER
DNS163Léon DupontBEL
DNS619František SoučekBOH
DNS284Henri JardinFRA
DNS223Nikolaos GeorgantasGRE
DNS774Emilio BrambillaITA
DNS849Pericle PaglianiITA
DNS892Gaspare TorrettaITA
DNS383Johan LindqvistSWE
DNS477Otto NilssonSWE
DNS255Boris HonzátkoBOH
DNS54George BonhagUSA
DNS107Ellery ClarkUSA
DNS108Harvey CohnUSA
DNS514Meyer PrinsteinUSA
DNS580Lawson RobertsonUSA
DNS616Dick SheldonUSA
DNS626James SullivanUSA
DNS44Nigel BarkerAUS
DNS726Dad WheatleyAUS
DNS846Theodor ScheidlAUT
DNS415Henri MoliniéFRA
DNS114Stephen CarnellyGBR
DNS118Arnold ChurchillGBR
DNS245Henry HawtreyGBR
DNS733Henry WeberGBR
DNSWilhelm RitzenhoffGER
DNS34Stavros AntoniadisGRE
DNS529Vasilios PapageorgiouGRE
DNS563Patestos PatestidisGRE
DNS677Fritz SkullerudNOR
DNS431Hjalmar MellanderSWE
DNS196Hugo FriendUSA
DNS311Bert KerriganUSA
DNS191Edmond FiliâtreFRA
DNS78Bjarne BratzNOR