Open main menu

Athletics at the 1896 Summer Olympics – Men's marathon

The men's marathon event was a special race invented as part of the Athletics at the 1896 Summer Olympics programme. Michel Bréal originated the idea of a race from the city of Marathon to Athens, taking inspiration from the legend of Pheidippides. The first such marathon race was a Greek national competition that served as a qualifier for the Olympic marathon, won by Charilaos Vasilakos. The length of the marathon in 1896 was approximately 40 km (25 mi).[1]

Men's marathon
at the Games of the I Olympiad
Louis entering Kallimarmaron at the 1896 Athens Olympics.jpg
Spyridon Louis entering the stadium at the end of the marathon
VenueMarathon to Athens
DatesApril 10
Competitors17 from 5 nations
1st, gold medalist(s) Spyridon Louis  Greece
2nd, silver medalist(s) Charilaos Vasilakos  Greece
3rd, bronze medalist(s) Gyula Kellner  Hungary
1900 →

Twenty-five athletes traveled to Marathon for the race from there to Athens, though only seventeen actually began the race.

Just as in the 1500 metre race, Albin Lermusiaux took the lead early. Edwin Flack and Arthur Blake maintained second and third place until Blake dropped out at 23 kilometres. At 32 kilometres, Lermusiaux dropped out as well, leaving Flack in the lead. However, Spyridon Louis was making full use of his endurance to gain slowly on Flack.

Exhausted from trying to maintain his pace, Flack dropped out of the race with three kilometres left. Louis was left alone at the front, finishing the 40 kilometre race in one minutes and ten seconds under three hours.

Vasilakos finished second, followed 30 seconds later by Spyridon Belokas, who held off Gyula Kellner, with Kellner subsequently lodging a protest, claiming Belokas had covered part of the course by carriage after having supposedly dropped out of the race. The protest was upheld, and Belokas was disqualified.


Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
  Spyridon Louis   Greece 2:58:50 OR
  Charilaos Vasilakos   Greece 3:06:03
  Gyula Kellner   Hungary 3:06:35
4 Ioannis Vrettos   Greece Unknown
5 Eleftherios Papasymeon   Greece Unknown
6 Dimitrios Deligiannis   Greece Unknown
7 Evangelos Gerakeris   Greece Unknown
8 Stamatios Masouris   Greece Unknown
Edwin Flack   Australia DNF (37 km)
Albin Lermusiaux   France DNF (32 km)
Ioannis Lavrentis   Greece DNF (24 km)
Georgios Grigoriou   Greece DNF (24 km)
Arthur Blake   United States DNF (23 km)
Ilias Kafetzis   Greece DNF (9 km)
Sokratis Lagoudakis   Greece DNF (? km)
Dimitrios Christopoulos   Greece DNF (? km)
Spyridon Belokas   Greece 3:06:30 DQ
Burton Holmes' photograph entitled "1896: Three athletes in training for the marathon at the Olympic Games in Athens".

See alsoEdit


  • Lampros, S.P.; Polites, N.G.; De Coubertin, Pierre; Philemon, P.J. & Anninos, C. (1897). The Olympic Games: BC 776 – AD 1896. Athens: Charles Beck. (Digitally available at
  • Mallon, Bill & Widlund, Ture (1998). The 1896 Olympic Games. Results for All Competitors in All Events, with Commentary. Jefferson: McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0379-9. (Excerpt available at
  • Smith, Michael Llewellyn (2004). Olympics in Athens 1896. The Invention of the Modern Olympic Games. London: Profile Books. ISBN 1-86197-342-X.