Monday, December 17, 2012

Amazing Video of the 1948 London Olympic Marathon

Three Olympics have been held in London. Each one had a marathon race. In fact, the 26.2 mile marathon standard distance was set at the 1908 London Games. Everyone knows about the famous 1908 London Olympic Marathon where Dorando Pietri staggered to the finish line and due to being aided near the finish was disqualified from winning the race. We were just treated to two more fantastic London Olympic Marathon races this summer (men's race highlights and female race highlights), but how many remember what happened in the 1948 London Olympic Marathon?

Here is a recently uploaded video of the 1948 Olympic race. It surely is something I have never seen before and the color video is simply fantastic. Just like in the 1908 Olympics, the lead runner stumbled upon entering the stadium. Etienne Gailly of Belgium, was on the verge of collapse, just like Pietri had been 40 years earlier. He was quickly passed by two runners, but no one intervened, and he was able to stumble on to the finish line to earn the bronze medal. This historic video is certainly a gem worth watching, and one can't help but compare the running strides of these runner 64 years ago with the strides of today's elite marathoners.

Here is what is published on youtube about this race:
The course of the marathon race for the London 1948 Olympic Games took a different approach to the one chosen for the London 1908 Olympics. While in 1908 the race went from the royal residence at Windsor Castle until the Olympic stadium in White City, this time, the race began and ended at Wembley stadium. Still, despite the changes, the excitement remained the same as seen during London's first Olympic experience.
Out of the forty-one racers who started the race, Etienne Gailly of Belgium was the first one to enter the stadium for the final lap. However -- as had happened in the 1908 Olympics with Dorando Pietri -- Gailly arrived visibly exhausted and near to collapse. Having learnt from Dorando's story 40 years earlier, no one intervened to avoid the Belgian runner's disqualification.
As soon as he reached the stadium, Argentinean athlete Delfo Cabrera - who had been following Gailly closely - took the lead of the marathon. Tom Richards from Great Britain was next to enter the stadium, overtake Etienne Gailly and attempt to challenge the leader, yet Cabrera remained strong to take gold. With the encouragement of the crowds, Gailly made it through the finish line in third, taking Olympic bronze in a superb effort.

Here is an article about a 87 year old American, Ted Vogel, who now lives in New Hampshire giving his recollections of running in the 1948 Olympic Marathon. Ted finished in 14th place. The great Johnny Kelley finished in 21st place (finishing times here).

Here is another short black and white video of the 1948 Olympic marathon.

Here you can find a video of the 1972 Olympic Marathon.
Here you can find a great video of the 1976 Olympic Marathon.

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