Thursday, August 28, 2008

Marathon Hijinks

Thought some of my friends might enjoy this from Wikipedia:

The marathon was the most bizarre event of the 1904 St. Louis Olympic Games. It was run in brutally hot weather, over dusty roads, with horses and automobiles clearing the way and creating dust clouds.

* The first to arrive was Frederick Lorz, who actually was just trotting back to the finish line to retrieve his clothes, after dropping out after nine miles. When the officials thought he had won the race, Lorz played along with his practical joke until he was found out shortly after the medal ceremony and was banned for a year by the AAU for this stunt, later winning the 1905 Boston Marathon.
* Thomas Hicks (a Briton running for the United States) was the first to cross the finish-line legally, after having received several doses of strychnine sulfate mixed with brandy from his trainers. He was supported by his trainers when he crossed the finish, but is still considered the winner. Hicks had to be carried off the track, and possibly would have died in the stadium, had he not been treated by several doctors.
* A Cuban postman named Felix Carbajal joined the marathon. He had to run in street clothes that he cut around the legs to make them look like shorts. He stopped off in an orchard en route to have a snack on some apples, which turned out to be rotten. The rotten apples caused him to have to lie down and take a nap. Despite falling ill to apples he finished in fourth place.
* 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). But they weren't there to compete in the Olympics, they were actually the sideshow. 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.

3 comments:

oscar acosta said...

This is hilarious! Could you imagine faking a race now in the Olympics? The officials would ban the athlete permanently! I think we should put a little old school back into the present olympics. Not the dogs of coarse, but the brandy and bad apples could be interesting...

wobblie said...

What, are we pandering to Courtney now?

courtney said...

Is that a bad thing, Wobs? : ) Marathons provide much interesting entertainment and colorful history. Maybe I'll try a shot of brandy on my training run this weekend......and hopefully not upchuck it right away!