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No Olympic event can rival the rich history and grand spectacle of the marathon. Created for the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 as a commemoration of the legendary run by the Greek messenger Philippides, the race has endured like no other, producing a century of awe-inspiring competition and unforgettable stories.
The Olympic Marathon brings the high drama and rich details of the past 24 Olympic marathon races to life in a way no other book ever has. This definitive resource, written by world-renowned Olympic marathon experts David Martin and Roger Gynn, goes beyond statistics to offer readers a vivid chronicle of the athletes and their memorable marathon performances.
Fans will relive the compelling moments that have made the Olympic marathon legendary: Spiridon Louis winning the first modern Olympic marathon in Athens in 1896, Emil Zátopek’s dramatic triple-gold performance in 1952, Ethiopian Abebe Bikila winning a gold medal while running barefoot, Joan Benoit Samuelson earning her place in history as winner of the first Olympic women’s marathon in 1984, and many other fascinating stories.
For each race, The Olympic Marathon provides the following:
A summary of the geographical setting and political climate surrounding the Olympic Movement
A course map and detailed street description
A step-by-step narrative of how the race was run
Biographical sketches of the top three finishers
A “Looking Ahead” section, which summarizes marathon highlights leading up to the next Olympic marathon
Generously illustrated, often with rare and never-before-published photos, a pictorial glimpse is provided into the contemporary atmosphere and dynamics of each race. Plus, for readers who want complete statistics on each race, the book provides a comprehensive appendix. Included are chronological and alphabetical race results for all men and women who participated in the event and listings of the fastest men’s and women’s Olympic marathon performances.
The Olympic Marathon is the authoritative book on the race that has captured the imagination of the world. It’s a one-of-a-kind resource that every fan of running and the Olympics will treasure.
Chapter 1. 1896 — Spiridon Louis Grabs Greece’s Only Gold Chapter 2. 1900 — Michel Théato Triumphs in Torrid Paris Race Chapter 3. 1904 — Tom Hicks Conquers Heat Wave in St. Louis Chapter 4. 1906 — Billy Sherring Speeds to Victory in the Intercalated Games Chapter 5. 1908 — Pietri Steals the Show as Hayes Captures the Gold Chapter 6. 1912 — South African Success Spree in Stockholm Chapter 7. 1920 — World Best for Hannes Kolehmainen Chapter 8. 1924 — A Surprise Runaway Victory for Stenroos in Paris Chapter 9. 1928 — French Algerian El Ouafi Wins at Amsterdam Chapter 10. 1932 — Zabala Takes Gold as Ferris Closes Fast in Los Angeles Chapter 11. 1936 — Korea’s Son Triumphs in Japanese Colors Chapter 12. 1948 — Cabrera Victorious in Post-War Games Revival at London Chapter 13. 1952 — Helsinki Hails Triple Gold Hero Emil Zátopek Chapter 14. 1956 — Mimoun the Best of a Modest Field Chapter 15. 1960 — Barefoot Bikila has a Roman Heyday Chapter 16. 1964 — Record Repeat for Bikila in Tokyo Chapter 17. 1968 — Wolde Makes It a Threepeat for Ethiopia Chapter 18. 1972 — Shorter Succeeds for USA in Munich Chapter 19. 1976 — Cierpinski Surprises Shorter in Montréal Chapter 20. 1980 — Cierpinski Matches Bikila’s Double Gold Chapter 21. 1984 — Age and Beauty Conquer at Los Angeles Chapter 22. 1988 — Bordin and Mota Score for Europe at Seoul Chapter 23. 1992 — Double Surprise Winners Master Montjuïc Chapter 24. 1996 — Africans Capture the Gold in Atlanta Chapter 25. 2000 — Sydney’s Sports Spectacular Ends Second Millennium
Appendix 1. Abbreviations Used for Geopolitical Entities Appendix 2. Olympic Marathon Race Summary Appendix 3. Summary of Top Three Olympic Marathon Finishers Appendix 4. Race Results for Men Listed Chronologically Appendix 5. Race Results for Men by GPE Alphabetically Appendix 6. Race Results for Men by Name Alphabetically Appendix 7. Race Results for Women Listed Chronologically Appendix 8. Race Results for Women by GPE Alphabetically Appendix 9. Race Results for Women by Name Alphabetically Appendix 10. Fastest 200 Olympic Men’s Marathon Performances Appendix 11. Fastest 100 Olympic Women’s Marathon Performances
David E. Martin, PhD, is a Fellow in the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), as well as a contributing member of the Association of Track and Field Statisticians (ATFS), the International Marathon Medical Directors Association (IMMDA), the Association of International Marathons (AIMS), and the International Society of Olympic Historians (ISOH). This multidisciplinary approach to the study of top-level marathon performance—from a scientific as well as historical viewpoint—gives him a unique perspective. In 1978, Martin was selected by the U.S. Olympic Academy to be one of three representatives to the International Olympic Academy. Even before then, he had begun to compile a database of top-level men's and women's performances. His work has continued, and the list now tops 44,000 performances. This provides an unparalleled resource for his research on the use of mathematical modeling techniques to assess performance trends in distance running.
Martin is co-author of The Marathon Footrace (1979, with Gynn), Training Distance Runners (1991), and Better Training for Distance Runners (1997). Since 1979, he has served prominently as chair of committees within USA Track & Field applying his sport science and coaching skills to the guidance of many of America's top distance runners. And since 1989, he has been marathon statistician for the ATFS, taking over the role pioneered by coauthor Roger Gynn. Martin lives in Decatur, Georgia.
Roger W.H. Gynn began documenting marathons in the late 1950s and is today one the world's foremost experts on marathon statistics. He was the marathon statistician for the Association of Track & Field Statisticians (ATFS) from 1968 to 1988. In this role, he was responsible for producing documentation on the marathon for the ATFS Annual, the definitive source for track and field performance statistics. Gynn also spent 20 years preparing annual marathon rankings for Track & Field News.
Over the years, Gynn has served as the marathon statistician for the British Union of Track & Field Statisticians, Running magazine, and Athletics Weekly. He has also been the main compiler of marathon lists for Track & Field Performance Through the Years, Volumes 1-4. Gynn is coauthor of The Marathon Footrace (with Martin) and compiler of both The Guinness Book of the Marathon and International Marathon Statistics. He is a member of the Association of Track & Field Statisticians and the National Union of Track & Field Statisticians. Gynn resides in Watford, Hertfordshire.
“Sprinkle liberal marathon doses of physiology, psychology, counseling, coaching, training, and research; then add the world's most authoritative statistics and most reliable history. The product that emerges is Professor David Martin and Roger Gynn's The Olympic Marathon, the most compelling, commanding volume ever published on this classic event.” Stan Saplin Historical Editor Track & Field News
“A truly great and inspirational work. More than any event, the marathon symbolizes the Olympic movement because the race, unlike any other Olympic event, had the same origins as the Olympic Games themselves. With love and respect, Martin and Gynn tell the story of the runners and their races. This book will be an inspiration to anyone who has ever thought about running a marathon. For those training for a marathon, follow this prescription: read one race account every day before running. Repeat as necessary.” Tom Derderian Author of Boston Marathon: The First Century of the World's Premier Running Event
“I expected a very good book, given the recognized prestige that David Martin enjoys among the athletic universe in the world, but the book bettered any expectations. It is a real jewel, both for the literature and the history of world athletics.” Cesar Moreno Member, International Amateur Athletics Federation Council Technical director, 1968 Mexico City Olympics Marathon