The hot Olympic marathon race 1912
This story abut the marathon race was written by Sven Låftman in the book Olympic Games Stockholm 1912, published in 1912.
There seems to be something fascinating about a Marathon race. Of the manifold Olympic contests there is admittedly no one able to call upon such a vivid interest as the Marathon race. It has always been so and will probably always continue to be so.
The Marathon race of 1912 proved no exception. On Sunday July 14th the Stadium was packed its utmost capacity and the roads leading there were thronged with immense crowds.
When the big hands of the Stadium-clock pointed to one quarter to one, the marathon-runners appeared the majority of them having donned some light head-gear to protect them from a burning sun.
At 1.43 p.m. the 69 runners lined up in several rows behind the starting post in front of the Royal balcony. At 1.48 p.m. sharp the pistol cracked. The runners ran three quarters of a lap in the Stadium amid a constant cheering and hubbub and soon disappeared on their stern journey in a grilling heat.
Ahlgren Sweden, succeeded in retaining the lead for the first 500 metres, but the little dreaded Finn Kohlemainen took the command. Many good judges had tipped the Finn to win the race, but the excessive heat played havoc with all calculations.
TRHOUSANDS OF SPECTATORS
The group of runners was soon disintegrated, those running to schedule taking it a little more easily. At the first control-station at Stocksund, five kilometres from the start, where elaborate arrangements had been made to comply with every request of the competitors, thousands of people were eagerly awaiting the runners.
The clock showed a quarter past two, when the advent of the first runners was announced. At 2.17.20 the three first runners passed, almost in a line, viz. Tatu Kohlemainen, Finland, Ahlgren, Sweden and Speroni, Italy. Thirteen seconds afterwards Boissiére (France), Gitsham and McArthur (South Africa) arrived. The next men to pass were: Pautex, Francom, Lord, Fonback, Kruklin, Törnros, Jacobsson, Nilsson, Dahlberg, and Andersson, the five latter in a bunch, fifty seconds after the leaders.
The time to the first three men was somewhat slower than had been expected, the five thousand metres being covered in 29 min. 20 sec. Hardly anyone stopped for refreshment at Stocksund.
KOHLEHMAINEN LEADING BY 13 SECONDS
The next control-station, Tureberg, situated 10 kilometres further on, was reached by Kohlemainen at 2.42.19 p.m. The inseparable two South Africans were still only 13 seconds behind, greeting the officials in charge of the control-station with a cheerful smile.
After the South Africans the Englishman Lord appeared at 2.43.10 and 30 seconds later the little sinewy Swede, Ahlgren, made for the turning-point, apparently not in the least discouraged by the ground lost.
After the first Swede, Ahlgren, Jacobsson (Sweden), Speroni (Italy), Boissiére, Pautex (France), Mike Ryan, the e formidable American, the Swedish sergeant and ski-runner, Andersson, and our Marathon veteran Bergvall pass in the order named.
The time difference between Kohlemainen and Bergvall was 4 min. 5 sec. At this stage of the journey many competitors dropped out, being unable to stand the terrific heat, and the ambulance and the doctors had strenuous work to do.
As the runners were striving to reach the turning-point the public in the Stadium received the communications from the control-stations with interest.
Kohlemainen began to feel the effects of the heat between Tureberg and Sollentuna, and the people waiting at the turning-point saw the South-African Gitsham round the turning-point in front of anybody else, none the worse for the heat, which nearly made a complete havoc among the northern runners.
As we said above, Gitsham was the first runner to round the turning-point, at 3.0.40 p.m. he had covered 20,100 metres in 1 hour 12 min. 40 sec. After 15 seconds, Kohlemainen appeared, and after another 20 seconds McArthur made for home. The following runners then followed at short intervals in the order name (Great Britain), Speroni, Ahlgren, Jacobsson, Boissiére, Corkery (Canada), Smith, Ryan, Piggott, Tewanima, Strobino, Sockalexis, Erxleben, Andersson, Bergvall, Green, Duffy, and Lilley.
Kennedy Kane McArthur from South Africa.
TWO SOUTH AFRICANS LEADING
The South Africans were thus leading and those initiated predicted that the extra-ordinary heat would tell on the other runners, giving the southerners a splendid chance. It was thought that Kohlemainen would have to slow down after having lost the lead, but with wonderful energy he managed to keep in contact with the leaders, passing Tureberg in the company of Gitsham, the sturdy McArthur lying only two metres behind.
The Italian Speroni passed Tureberg 16 seconds after Gitsham, followed by the Swedish favourite Jacobsson, who passes the control-station at 3.26.10, and Lord, Piggott, Tewanima, Strobino, Smith, Boissiére, Sockalexis, Corcery, Erxleben, Ahlgren, Duffy, Lilley, Green and Gallagher.
The South Africans were quickening, and the terrible heat evidently suited them. Many runners were defeated by the killing pace kept up by the leaders between Tureberg and Stocksund.
Kohlemainen had to fall back after a desperate effort and the green-clad South-African pair, Gitsham and McArthur, took a commanding lead, passing Stocksund at 4.2.20, four minutes ahead of Strobino (U.S.A.).
At 4.7.41 nine runners passed Stocksund in rapid succession; Jacobsson, Duffy, Speroni, Tewanima, Sockalexis, Erxleben, Gallagher, Lilley, and Piggott. As can be seen the American runners had come to the front, all the Swedes, Jacobsson excluded, having had to fall back.
A THUNDERSTORM OF APPLAUSE
Amid tumultuous cheering the big South-African McArthur swung into the Stadium at 4.24,5. He was evidently running in distress on reaching Valhallavägen but seemed to settle down on being told that he was lying 4 minutes in front of the pursuing Gitsham.
Collecting himself bravely he passed the main entrance, a big wreath of laurels being dropped over his shoulders and after having run three quarters of a lap he breasted the tape greeted by a veritable thunderstorm of applause.
A few minutes later Gitsham (South Africa) appeared at the main entrance, finishing in a somewhat better condition than McArthur.
The Swede Sigge Jacobsson was now expected to finish third, but the home crowd were cruelly disappointed, when it was seen the Strobino (America) was arriving third in front of Sockalexis (America) and Duffy (Canada).
The first European home was Sigge Jacobsson, who come sixth, the next European runner, a Frenchman, being thirteenth. The first ten runners covered the distance in the following times:
1) K. K. McArthur, South Africa, 188.8.131.52 2) C. W. Gitsham, South Africa, 2.37.52. 3) G. Strobino, America 184.108.40.206. 4) A. Sockalexis, 220.127.116.11. 5) J. Duffy, 18.104.22.168. 6) S. Jacobsson, 22.214.171.124. 7) J. J. Gallagher, 126.96.36.199. 8) J. Erxleben, 188.8.131.52. 9) R. F. Piggot, 184.108.40.206. 10) J. Forshaw, 2.49.4.
Jubileumsmarathon Stockholm 1912–2012.
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