Remembering The 1908 Olympic Marathon

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published May. 30, 2012
  • Updated May. 30, 2012 at 11:15 AM UTC
Dorando Pietri’s controversial finish at the 1908 London Marathon. Photo: Getty Images

One Italian man’s determination made running history.

Unless you are a marathon historian, you probably haven’t heard the name Dorando Pietri. But back in 1908, the diminutive Italian marathoner was practically a household name.

At the Olympics that year in London, Pietri stumbled across the finish line of the marathon, but was later disqualified after it was made known that he had been helped up numerous times from course umpires.

The gold medal was then awarded to American Johnny Hayes.

But the scandal surrounding Pietri’s marathon drew publicity for the Games.

“It created one of those iconic moments of drama,” noted author Rebecca Jenkins, who wrote “The First London Olympics: 1908.” “It was the vision of the everyman, the little engine that could … that anyone from any backwater could come and that you could do things through any great odds.”

The modern Olympics were first started in Athens in 1896. However, the Olympics that we recognize today, many of the rules and ceremonies, date back to London, 1908.

For More: Washington Post

FILED UNDER: News / Olympic Games TAGS: / /

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin is the news editor at and a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released last July.

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