| Event type

Marathon, Men

Date20 October 1968 — 15:00
LocationEstadio Olímpico Universitario, Ciudad de México
Participants75 from 41 countries
Format42,195 metres (26 miles, 385 yards) point-to-point.

The 1968 Olympic Games were held at Ciudad de México, which lies at an altitude of 2,240 metres, or 7,350 feet. The effect of high-altitude on athletic performance was known from previous competitions. In sprints and short-distance races, it produced record performances, but at distances, the thin air, with lesser oxygen content, impeded the athletes, and resulted in very slow competitions. No event in 1968 would be more affected by the altitude than the marathon.

The two-time defending champion, Abebe Bikila, was back and since he had grown up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at higher altitude than Mexico City, he should have been a favorite. But he was injured, having recently had an appendectomy and was running the race with a stress fracture. He would not finish. But his teammate, Mamo Wolde, had also grown up at that altitude and his track experience, which went back to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, made him a formidable contender.

The race began at 3 PM on the final day of track & field competition, on a warm (23° C. [73° F.]) and sunny day. The course was point-to-point, starting at the Plaza de la Constitución, known as the Zócala, and ending at the Stadio Olímpico. The pace was slow, the runners worried about the altitude, and thru 10 km., a large group of runners led the field. By 20 km. the lead was held by Belgium’s Gaston Roelants, 1964 gold medalist in the steeplechase, and Britain’s Tim Johnston, followed closely by four runners – Naftali Temu, who a week before had won the 10 km. on the track, Wolde, Jürgen Busch (GDR), and Turkey’s İsmail Akçay. Temu then pulled ahead by 25 km., but Mamo Wolde took the lead at 30 km. He eventually won by over three minutes from Japan’s Kenji Kimihara, making it three straight marathon gold medals for Ethiopia.

1329Mamo WoldeETH2-20:26.4Gold
2Kenji KimiharaJPN2-23:31.0Silver
3Mike RyanNZL2-23:45.0Bronze
4İsmail AkçayTUR2-25:18.8
5Bill AdcocksGBR2-25:33.0
6Gabrou MerawiETH2-27:16.8
7Derek ClaytonAUS2-27:23.8
8Tim JohnstonGBR2-28:04.4
9Akio UsamiJPN2-28:06.2
10Andy BoychukCAN2-28:40.2
11Gaston RoelantsBEL2-29:04.8
12Pat McMahonIRL2-29:21.0
13Alfredo PeñalozaMEX2-29:48.8
14Kenny MooreUSA2-29:49.4
15Jürgen BuschGDR2-30:42.6
16318George YoungUSA2-31:15.0
17Manfred SteffnyFRG2-31:23.8
18Thin SumbwegamMYA2-32:22.0
19575Naftali TemuKEN2-32:36.0
20Maurice PeirenBEL2-32:49.0
21Antonino AmbuITA2-33:19.6
22Ron DawsUSA2-33:53.0
23Karl-Heinz SieversFRG2-34:11.8
24Gyula TóthHUN2-34:49.0
25Hüseyin AktaşTUR2-35:09.5
26Pablo GarridoMEX2-35:47.8
27Aad SteylenNED2-37:42.0
28Anatoly SukharkovURS2-38:07.4
29Lee Myeong-JeongKOR2-38:52.2
30Ivaylo SharankovBUL2-39:49.6
31Gioacchino De PalmaITA2-39:58.2
32Josef GwerderSUI2-40:16.0
33Hubert RiesnerFRG2-41:29.0
34Georg OlsenDEN2-42:24.6
35Douglas ZinkalaZAM2-42:51.0
36Ezequiel BaezaCHI2-43:15.6
37Dave McKenzieNZL2-43:36.6
38Kim Bong-NaeKOR2-43:56.0
39Carlos CuqueGUA2-45:20.4
40Godwin KalimbweZAM2-45:26.8
41Mick MolloyIRL2-48:13.6
42Nikola SimeonovBUL2-48:30.4
43John FarringtonAUS2-50:16.8
44Helmut KunischSUI2-50:58.2
45Alifu MassaquoiSLE2-52:28.0
46Lee Sang-HunKOR2-52:46.2
47Hla TheinMYA2-54:03.6
48Paul MoseKEN2-55:17.0
49333Benjamin Silva-NettoPHI2-56:19.4
50Harry ProwellGUY2-57:01.4
51Wimalasena PereraSRI2-59:05.8
52Fulgencio HernándezGUA3-00:40.2
53Gustavo GutiérrezECU3-03:07.0
54Martin AndeNGR3-03:47.6
55788Mustafa MusaUGA3-04:53.8
56Enoch MuembaZAM3-06:16.0
57John Stephen AkhwariTAN3-25:17.0
ACEdgar FriedliSUIDNF
ACMraljeb Ayed MansoorKUWDNF
ACMukhamed ShakirovURSDNF
ACSaoud Obaid DaifallahKUWDNF
ACCarlos PérezESPDNF
ACSeiichiro SasakiJPNDNF
ACPeter BuniakCANDNF1
ACGuy TexereauFRADNF
ACArmando GonzálezURUDNF
ACAbebe BikilaETHDNF
AC197Rafael PérezCRCDNF
AC467Lajos MecserHUNDNF
ACPentti RummakkoFINDNF
DNSHernán BarrenecheCOL2
DNSJouko KuhaFIN
DNSEttore MiloneITA
DNSYury VolkovURS
DNSTon EykenboomNED
DNSJürgen HaaseGDR
DNS683Edward StawiarzPOL
DNS781Mohamad GammoudiTUN