| Event type

Marathon, Men

Date14 July 1912 — 13:48
LocationStockholms Olympiastadion, Stockholm
Participants68 from 19 countries
Format40,200 metres (24.98 miles) out-and-back.

The marathon at Stockholm was the first time the Olympic marathon was conducted as an out-and-back race. The runners started at the Olympic stadium, ran north to the small town of Sollentuna, where they turned just beyond the main village church and returned to the Olympic stadium. Unfortunately the day of the race dawned very hot for Stockholm, a common occurrence in Olympic marathon racing. Gynn and Martin have noted “Unconfirmed reports have suggested a temperature of 32° C. (89.6° F.) in the shade.”

Most of the world’s top long-distance runners were present. The Americans entered 12 runners, the maximum, including the Boston Marathon champions of 1911 (Clarence DeMar) and 1912 (Mike Ryan), two Indian runners (Lewis Tewanima, a Hopi; and Andrew Sockalexis, a Penobscot), and Joe Forshaw, who had run the Olympic marathon in 1906 and 1908, winning the bronze medal at London. The British entered eight runners, including Harry Barrett, who won the 1909 Polytechnic race, and the 3rd-8th place finishers at the 1912 Polytechnic race.

The top two finishers from the 1912 Polytechnic Marathon were not British but both were present at Stockholm. Canada’s James Corkery had won the race, followed by South Africa’s Chris Gitsham. South Africa also entered Kenneth McArthur, who was little known outside of his native country. But between 1909 and 1911 he had won three marathon distance races in South Africa, and had never been defeated at marathon distances.

The race was led through the early stages by Tatu Kolehmainen, Hannes’s brother. At the turn-around at Sollentuna, Chris Gitsham was the leader in 1-12:40, followed by Kolehmainen and McArthur, with a group of five (Fred Lord [GBR], Carlo Speroni [ITA], Alexis Ahlgren [SWE], Sigfrid Jacobsson [SWE], and Corkery) within a minute of the leader.

By 25 km. Kolehmainen had caught Gitsham and the two ran together for several miles. But Kolehmainen dropped out by 35 km. and McArthur caught his teammate at that point (reached in 2-14:20) and they led by over one minute from Jacobsson and America’s virtual unknown, Gaston Strobino.

At the base of a hill, a few kilometres outside the stadium, Gitsham stopped to drink, and McArthur pulled away to take the lead for good. He entered the stadium comfortably ahead, and the two South Africans finished one-two. Strobino finished third. Almost a phantom among American track & field medalists, he had qualified for the Olympic team when he had finished 2nd in a half-marathon in New York earlier in 1912. After the Olympics, Strobino retired and never raced again.

The 1912 Olympic marathon also saw the Games’ first tragedy. Portuguese marathoner Francisco Lázaro from the effects of the race and the hot weather. Taken to Seraphim Hospital, he was never revived and he died on the morning after the race at 0620, the first fatality during an Olympic event.

Kennedy McArthur may be the least known Olympic marathon gold medalist. South African historians know little of his life. But Roger Gynn and Dave Martin, in their book on Olympic marathons, note that he is known to have run six marathons in his running career, and never lost.

In addition to the gold medal, Kennedy McArthur was awarded the Challenge Trophy for the marathon race, that had been donated in 1908 by the King of Greece. The runners who finished in places 4-28 in the marathon were also awarded diplomas of merit. This was all runners finishing within 20% of the winning time.

1Ken McArthurRSA2-36:54.8Gold
2Chris GitshamRSA2-37:52.0Silver
3Gaston StrobinoUSA2-38:42.4Bronze
4Andrew SockalexisUSA2-42:07.9
5Jimmy DuffyCAN2-42:18.8
6Sigfrid JacobssonSWE2-43:24.9
7John GallagherUSA2-44:19.4
8Joseph ErxlebenUSA2-45:47.2
9Richard PiggottUSA2-46:40.7
10Joe ForshawUSA2-49:49.4
11Ed FabreCAN2-50:36.2
12Clarence DeMarUSA2-50:46.6
13Renon Boissière FRA2-51:06.6
14Harry GreenGBR2-52:11.4
15William ForsythCAN2-52:23.0
16Lewis TewanimaUSA2-52:41.4
17Harry SmithUSA2-52:53.8
18Thomas LilleyUSA2-59:35.4
19Arthur TownsendGBR3-00:05.0
20Felix KwietonAUT3-00:48.0
21Fred LordGBR3-01:39.2
22Jacob WestbergSWE3-02:05.2
23Axel SimonsenNOR3-04:59.4
24Carl AnderssonSWE3-06:13.0
25Edgar LloydGBR3-09:25.0
26Iraklis SakellaropoulosGRE3-11:37.0
27Hjalmar DahlbergSWE3-13:32.2
28Ivar LundbergSWE3-16:35.2
29Johannes ChristensenDEN3-21:57.4
30Olaf LodalDEN3-21:57.6
31Ödön KárpátiHUN3-25:21.6
32Carl NilssonSWE3-26:56.4
33Emmerich RathAUT3-27:03.8
34Otto OsenNOR3-36:35.2
DNFStuart PoulterANZ
DNFBoris HonzátkoBOH
DNFVladimír PencBOH
DNFFrantišek SlavíkBOH
DNFJames CorkeryCAN
DNFAarne KallbergFIN
DNFTatu KolehmainenFIN
DNFLouis PautexFRA
DNFHarry BarrettGBR
DNFJames BealeGBR
DNFSeptimus FrancomGBR
DNFTim KellawayGBR
DNFHenrik Ripszám, Jr.HUN
DNFFrancesco RuggieroITA
DNFCarlo SperoniITA
DNFShizo KanakuriJPN
DNFOscar FonbækNOR
DNF Francisco LázaroPOR
DNFArthur St. NormanRSA
DNFAndrejs KapmalsRUS
DNFAndrejs KrūkliņšRUS
DNFNikolajs RassoRUS
DNFElmar ReimannRUS
DNFAleksandrs UpmalsRUS
DNFDragutin TomaševićSRB
DNFAlexis AhlgrenSWE
DNFThure BergvallSWE
DNFWilliam GrünerSWE
DNFDavid GuttmanSWE
DNFIvan LönnbergSWE
DNFGustaf TörnrosSWE
DNFJohn ReynoldsUSA
DNSAli Ben AllelFRA
DNSGaston CapelleFRA
DNSPaul CoulondFRA
DNSJean LespielleFRA
DNSHenri LorgnatFRA
DNSEdmond NeyrinckFRA
DNSAhmed DjebeliaFRA
DNSCharlie DavenportGBR
DNSGeorge DayGBR
DNSHenry LewisGBR
DNSSamuel RaynesGBR
DNSNino CazzanigaITA
DNSOrlando CesaroniITA
DNSAlfred NilsenNOR
DNSJohannes PedersenNOR
DNSMatias de CarvalhoPOR
DNSAleksandr KracheninRUS
DNSIosif ZaytsevRUS
DNSRené WildeRUS
DNSZivko VastitschSRB
DNSAlex DecouteauCAN
DNSGeorge GouldingCAN
DNSJoe KeeperCAN
DNSAlfonso SánchezCHI
DNSGaston HeuetFRA
DNSLen RichardsonRSA
DNSMikhail NikolskyRUS
DNSNikolay KhorkovRUS