19 Jul

Father Of Marathon Honoured In Stockholm

Shizo Kanakuri

This weekend saw Stockholm commemorate the marathon runners who took part in the 1912 Olympics with its centenary event. Of the 68 competitors who embarked on the race a century ago, Shizo Kanakuri's journey was perhaps the longest, with the Japanese runner recoding a time of a little over 54 years and 8 months.

Known as the 'Father of Marathon' in his native country, Kanakuri (1891-1983) inscribed his name in Olympic folklore after straying off-course along the Stockholm route. At around 27km, with the Japanese runner seriously dehydrated and losing consciousness, Kanakuri was taken to the house of a local family who assisted in his recovery.

After his rehabilitation, Kanakuri led a relatively successful running career, competing at the 1920 Olympics in Belgium and establishing one of the most popular long-distance events in Japan, the Tokyo-Hakone Round-Trip College Ekiden Race.

Kanakuri at 75

In 1967, and with Kanakuri aged 75, the Japanese runner was invited to finish the race he began half a century earlier. As he crossed the line, the announcement sounded: "The finishing time is 54 years, 8 months, 6 days, 5 hours, 32 minutes and 20.3 seconds."

With organisers looking to commemorate the runners who took part in the 1912 event, Kanakuri's great-grandson, Yoshiaki Kurado, 25, was invited to this year's race. While not boasting the kind of pedigree of his great-grandfather, Kurado said in the lead-up to the event: "I am not confident, but I want to run the entire distance."

Saturday's Jubilee race saw Kurado complete the marathon in 4:25:01. In another fitting tribute to the Japanese 'Father of Marathon', organisers located the house in which he was cared for, and used the site as a refreshment area for runners.