Ken McArthur

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Ken McArthur
Kenneth McArthur.jpg
Kenneth McArthur at the 1912 Olympics
Personal information
BornFebruary 10, 1881
Dervock, County Antrim, Ireland
DiedJune 13, 1960 (aged 78)
Potchefstroom, South Africa
Height1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Weight77 kg (170 lb)
SportLong-distance running

Kennedy Kane "Ken" McArthur (February 10, 1881 – June 13, 1960) is most noted as a track and field athlete and winner of the marathon at the 1912 Summer Olympics.

Born in Dervock, County Antrim, Ireland, McArthur was recognised as a promising athlete as a teenager, but he didn't pursue an athletics career until after emigrating to South Africa in 1901 at the age of 20.

After joining the Johannesburg Police Force in 1906, McArthur begun to take athletics seriously. Soon he had won the Transvaal half and one mile championships, the five mile track championship and also two national cross country championships.

McArthur ran his first marathon late in the 1908 season, and surprisingly beat the Olympic silver medalist Charles Hefferon. He also won the national one and ten mile championships.

The Stockholm Olympic marathon took place in sweltering heat. Representing South Africa in the event, McArthur and his teammate Christian Gitsham ran together and soon took the lead. Confident of victory, Gitsham stopped for water, expecting his colleague to join him, as agreed. Instead McArthur ran on, stretching his lead and taking him to certain victory over Gitsham by 58 seconds.

In the next season, McArthur injured his foot in an accident and was forced to retire from athletics. He ran six marathon races (including the Olympic marathon) throughout his career and never lost one.


  • Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Ken McArthur". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 2020-04-17.
  • Kennedy McArthur at the South African Sport and Arts Hall of Fame