It was a hot summer day, 14 july 1912, and the Stockholm Olympic stadium was brand new and packed with spectators who wanted to see the start of the Olympic marathon.
The Swedish champion runner Sigfrid ”Sigge” Jacobsson was held high and everyone expected him to win. There was not many nation wide competitions back then and hard to compare athletes.
The runners ran out from Stockholm Stadion trough the marathon-gate out on Valhallavägen and towards the Technical university, then to Bergshamra and down to Järva krog, Silverdal, Sollentuna and to the turning point at Rotebro.
You can see for yourself here.
It was very hot. The south african runners had a grip of the race. There were many runners that had problems in the heat.
One of the most famous are Shizo Kanakuri. He was offered a cold drink and a rest in the garden of the Petrén family. Afterwards he vanished. He had turned back home to Japan without reporting that.
South african runner Ken McArthur won the race, and the second place was also a south african runner, Christian Gitsham.
So what happened to the Swedish hope Sigge? He had suffered in the heat and got blisters from his new shoes. He finished 6th place. The best place any swede have ever placed in an olympic marathon. Songs were written about him, not very pleasant ones. Everyone expected him to win.
In the early years of the olympics it was important with style. You should finish a marathon as fast as you could but it was important to do it in style. Sigge got some credit for looking unaffected. The winner on the other hand had to have some support after he won the race.
Symmetry was also important. For example, they competed in javelin with both the left and the right hand and added the results.
Art, poetry and sculpture was also olympic events back then.
Today 3 years ago…
In 2012 we celebrated the marathon race by running it again.
It was an awesome event. Many was dressed in authentic clothes. Old cars, old music.
The relatives to Shizo Kanakuri was there and it was a ceremony on the place where Shizo Kanakuri had broken the race exactly 100 years earlier.
Runners from all the world came to experience the event and it was a great memory.