| Event type

Marathon, Men

Date 7 August 1948 — 15:00
LocationEmpire Stadium, Wembley, London
Participants41 from 21 countries
Format42,195 metres (26 miles, 385 yards) out-and-back.

With the world recovering from the effects of World War II, it was difficult to choose a favorite in 1948. Finland’s Viljo Heino was to make his marathon début at London, and as the world-record holder at 10,000 metres and in the one-hour run, he was considered someone to watch. The London organizers chose to not to run over the point-to-point course used for the 1908 Olympics, which had established the standard marathon distance of 42.195 km. (26 miles, 385 yards). Instead, the race started and finished at Wembley Stadium, looping thru the London suburbs.

Raceday was cloudy and humid, with some wind, with the event starting at 3 PM. The immediate lead was taken by the Belgian Étienne Gailly in his marathon début. He held the lead almost the entire race, but was passed briefly at about 35 km. by the Korean, Choi Yoon-Chil. However, Gailly regained the lead quickly and held it as he entered Wembley Stadium. Unfortunately, he had given all he had to that point. He was wobbling and stumbling along the track, evoking memories of Dorando Pietri in 1908. On the track he was passed first by Argentina’s Delfo Cabrera, who had run a steady pace moving up throughout, and then by Britain’s Tom Richards. Cabrera won the gold medal, with Richards second. Gailly was able to finish the race, and held on for a bronze medal. He had never gone beyond 18 miles in training but before the race said “If I am still standing at the finish I will have won a medal”. Gailly did both but only barely.

The following morning at 7.30 am Richards was back at his work as a psychiatric nurse at a hospital around 15 miles from the stadium.

1233Delfo CabreraARG2-34:51.6Gold
2266Tom RichardsGBR2-35:07.6Silver
3252Étienne GaillyBEL2-35:33.6Bronze
4278Johannes ColemanRSA2-36:06.0
5234Eusebio GuiñezARG2-36:36.0
6279Syd LuytRSA2-38:11.0
7283Gustav ÖstlingSWE2-38:40.6
8276John SystadNOR2-38:41.0
9251Armando SensiniARG2-39:30.0
10257Henning LarsenDEN2-41:22.0
11238Viljo HeinoFIN2-41:32.0
12282Anders MelinSWE2-42:20.0
13259Jussi KurikkalaFIN2-42:48.0
14290Ted VogelUSA2-45:27.0
15256Enrique InostrozaCHI2-47:48.0
16254Lloyd EvansCAN2-48:07.0
17253Gérard CôtéCAN2-48:31.0
18267Stelios KyriakidisGRE2-49:00.0
19269József KissHUN2-50:20.0
20287Şevki KoruTUR2-51:07.0
21288Johnny KelleyUSA2-51:56.0
22286Kaspar SchiesserSUI2-52:09.0
23255Walter FedorickCAN2-52:12.0
24289Ollie ManninenUSA2-56:49.0
25274Hong Jong-OhKOR2-56:54.0
26258Frank MulvihillIRL2-57:35.0
27262Seo Yun-BokKOR2-59:36.0
28281Sven HåkanssonSWE3-00:09.0
29285Jakob JutzSUI3-03:55.0
30265Stan JonesGBR3-09:16.0
DNF273Choi Yun-ChilKOR
DNF263Arsène PiessetFRA
DNF268Athanasios RagazosGRE
DNF202Luo WenaoCHN
DNF264Jack HoldenGBR
DNF284Hans FrischknechtSUI
DNF271Chhota SinghIND
DNF262René JossetFRA
DNF260Mikko HietanenFIN
DNF818Salvatore CostantinoITA
DNF261Pierre CousinFRA
DNS280José María BlayESP
DNS275Charles HeirendtLUX
DNS270István SimonHUN