The Curious Case of Shizo Kanakuri's 1912 Olympic Marathon Run | Summary and Q&A

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September 13, 2018
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The Curious Case of Shizo Kanakuri's 1912 Olympic Marathon Run

TL;DR

Shizo Kanakuri, known for having the worst official time of any Olympic marathon runner, is fondly remembered in Japan as a trailblazer in long-distance running and the creator of a renowned relay race.

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Key Insights

  • πŸƒ Shizo Kanakuri's poor performance in the 1912 Olympic marathon is overshadowed by his significant contributions to long-distance running in Japan.
  • β˜€οΈ Kanakuri's experience highlights the importance of proper preparation, especially in extreme weather conditions.
  • πŸ‘³ The story of Kanakuri's disappearance and subsequent "finish" in the marathon became an urban legend in Stockholm.
  • πŸ«’ Kanakuri's legacy lives on through the Tokyo-Hakone Round-Trip College Ekiden Race, which he established.
  • πŸ‘Ÿ Despite his initial setback, Kanakuri's passion for running continued, and he became a geography teacher after retiring from the sport.
  • 🀨 Kanakuri's remarkable life journey included marriage, raising children, and grandchildren.
  • 🚴 The Swedish National Olympic Committee was surprised to learn of Kanakuri's existence after records listed him as a missing person for decades.

Transcript

When it comes to Olympic level track and field events, history tends to only remember those who ran the fastest, jumped the farthest and pushed themselves further than their peers. Shizo Kanakuri is an apparent exception to that rule because he’s fondly remembered for having the worst official time of any Olympic marathon runner in history, taking ... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: Why is Shizo Kanakuri remembered as one of Japan's finest athletes?

Despite his poor performance at the 1912 Olympics, Kanakuri is regarded as the "father of the Japanese marathon" for his contributions to the sport and the creation of the Tokyo-Hakone Round-Trip College Ekiden Race.

Q: How did Kanakuri's unorthodox running method affect his performance?

Kanakuri's belief that drinking liquids during a race would lead to fatigue prevented him from staying hydrated, contributing to his passing out from heatstroke.

Q: Why did Kanakuri's absence at the 1912 Olympics cause concern?

Many runners suffered from heat-related issues during the marathon, with one fatality. Authorities reported Kanakuri as missing, unaware that he had returned home without notifying race officials.

Q: How did Kanakuri eventually "finish" the marathon 54 years later?

Swedish officials invited Kanakuri back to Sweden under the pretense of celebrating the 55th anniversary of the 1912 Olympics. They filmed him completing the race, recording an official finish time of 54 years, 8 months, 6 days, 5 hours, 32 minutes, and 20.3 seconds.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Shizo Kanakuri entered the 1912 Olympics as a favorite to win the marathon after setting a possible world record in Japan.

  • Kanakuri and his teammate faced challenges in their journey to Sweden, including illness and unfamiliar cuisine.

  • Due to extreme heat, improper footwear, and passing out from heatstroke, Kanakuri dropped out of the marathon but never officially informed race officials.

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