Athletics at the 1904 Summer Olympics – Men's marathon

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Men's marathon
at the Games of the III Olympiad
Marathon Hicks1904.jpg
Thomas Hicks and supporters
Venue St. Louis
Dates August 30
Competitors 32 from 4 nations
Gold medal    United States
Silver medal    United States
Bronze medal    United States
«1900 1908»
Athletics at the
1904 Summer Olympics
Athletics pictogram.svg
Track events
60 m   men
100 m men
200 m men
400 m men
800 m men
1500 m men
110 m hurdles men
200 m hurdles men
400 m hurdles men
2590 m steeplechase men
4 mile team race men
Road events
Marathon men
Field events
Long jump men
Triple jump men
High jump men
Pole vault men
Standing long jump men
Standing triple jump men
Standing high jump men
Shot put men
Discus throw men
Hammer throw men
56 pound weight throw men
Combined events
Triathlon men
All-around men
The Cuban Andarín Carvajal on his way to the fourth place.

The men's marathon at the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis took place on August 30 of that year, over a distance of 24.85 miles.[2] Thirty-two athletes representing four nations competed, but only 14 managed to finish the race, which proved to be a bizarre affair due to poor organization and officiating.[3]

Instead of having the marathon begin early in the morning, St. Louis organizers started it in the afternoon, and temperatures during the marathon reached 32 ℃ (90 ℉).[4] The race began and ended in the stadium, but the rest of the course was on dusty country roads with race officials riding in vehicles ahead of and behind the runners, creating dust clouds. The only source of water for the competitors was a well at about the 11-mile mark.[3]


These were the standing world and Olympic records (in hours) prior to the 1904 Summer Olympics.

World Record none
Olympic Record 2'58:50(*) Greece Spiridon Louis Athens (GRE) April 10, 1896 (NS)

(*) Distance was also 40 kilometres


The first to arrive at the finish line was American runner Fred Lorz, who had actually dropped out of the race after nine miles and hitched a ride back to the stadium in a car, waving at spectators and runners alike during the ride. When the car broke down at the 19th mile, Lorz re-entered the race and jogged across the finish line.[5] Hailed as the winner, he had his photograph taken with Alice Roosevelt, daughter of then-U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, and was about to be awarded the gold medal when his subterfuge was revealed.[citation needed] Lorz immediately admitted what he'd done and said he had only been joking; the AAU responded by banning him from competition for life (although they reconsidered and lifted the ban a year later).[3][6]

British-born Thomas Hicks of the United States ended up the winner of the event, although he was aided by measures that would not have been permitted in later years. Ten miles from the finish Hicks led the race by a mile and a half, but he had to be restrained from stopping and lying down by his trainers. From then until the end of the race, Hicks received several doses of strychnine sulfate (a common rat poison, which stimulates the nervous system in small doses) mixed with brandy.[3] He was supported by his trainers when he crossed the finish, but was still considered the winner. Hicks had to be carried off the track, and might have died in the stadium had he not been treated by several doctors.[citation needed]

Another near-fatality during the event was William Garcia of San Francisco. He was found lying in the road along the marathon course with severe internal injuries caused by breathing the clouds of dust kicked up by the race officials' cars.[3]

A Cuban postman named Andarín Carvajal joined the marathon, arriving at the last minute.[citation needed] After losing all of his money in New Orleans, Louisiana, he hitchhiked to St. Louis and had to run in street clothes for the event that he cut around the legs to make them look like shorts. Not having eaten in 40 hours, he stopped off in an orchard en route to have a snack on some apples, which turned out to be rotten.[citation needed] The rotten apples caused him to have strong stomach cramps. Despite falling ill from the apples he finished in fourth place.[citation needed]

The marathon included the first two black Africans to compete in the Olympics: two Tswana tribesmen named Len Tau (real name: Len Taunyane) and Yamasani (real name: Jan Mashiani). They were not in St. Louis to compete in the Olympics, however; they were actually part of the sideshow.[citation needed] They had been brought over by the exposition as part of the Boer War exhibit (both were really students from Orange Free State in South Africa, but this fact was not made known to the public). Len Tau finished ninth and Yamasani came in twelfth. This was a disappointment, as many observers were sure Len Tau could have done better if he had not been chased nearly a mile off course by aggressive dogs.[6]

Arriving without correct documents, Frenchman Albert Corey was not included as part of the French team. He is inconsistently listed as performing in a mixed team in the four mile team race and performing for the US in the marathon.[6]

Place Athlete Time
1  Thomas Hicks (USA) 3:28:53
2  Albert Corey (USA)[1]
3  Arthur Newton (USA) 3:47:33
4  Andarín Carvajal (CUB) Unknown
5  Dimitrios Veloulis (GRE) Unknown
6  David Kneeland (USA) Unknown
7  Henry Brawley (USA) Unknown
8  Sidney Hatch (USA) Unknown
9  Len Tau (RSA) Unknown
10  Christos Zechouritis (GRE) Unknown
11  F. P. Devlin (USA) Unknown
12  Jan Mashiani (RSA) Unknown
13  John Furla (USA) Unknown
14  Andrew Oikonomou (GRE) Unknown
 Edward P. Carr (USA) DNF
 Georgios Drosos (GRE) DNF
 Robert Fowler (USA) DNF
 John Foy (USA) DNF
 William Garcia (USA) DNF
 Charilaos Giannakas (GRE) DNF
 Bertie Harris (RSA) DNF
 Thomas J. Kennedy (USA) DNF
 John Lordon (USA) DNF
 Ioannis Lougkitsas (GRE) DNF
 Georgios Louridas (GRE) DNF
 Samuel Mellor (USA) DNF
 Frank Pierce (USA) DNF
 Petros Pipiles (GRE) DNF
 Guy Porter (USA) DNF
 Michael Spring (USA) DNF
 Georgios Vamkaitis (GRE) DNF
DISQ  Frederick Lorz (USA) 3:13:00
  1. ^ a b Corey was French although the International Olympic Committee medal database refers to him incorrectly as American because of insufficient documentation at the time.
  2. ^ Logman, Jeré (2012-04-20). "The Marathon’s Random Route to Its Length". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 February 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Wallechinsky, David (1984). The Complete Book of the Olympics. New York: Penguin Books. pp. 44–45. ISBN 0140066322. 
  4. ^ USA Track & Field (2004). "2004 USA Olympic Team Trials: Men’s Marathon Media Guide Supplement" (pdf). Santa Barbara, California: USA Track & Field. p. 11. Retrieved February 21, 2011. 
  5. ^ Karen Abbott (2012). "The 1904 Olympic Marathon May Have Been The Strangest Ever". Smithsonian Magazine. 
  6. ^ a b c Cronin, Brian (2010-08-10). "Sports Legend Revealed: A marathon runner nearly died". Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles). Retrieved 31 August 2010.