'Missing Japanese' runner of 1912 Olympics to be honored

July 14, 2012

By SOJI MASUDA/ Staff Writer

When Japanese marathon runner Shizo Kanakuri strayed off the marathon course at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics and disappeared, he achieved more lasting fame than the eventual winner, Ken McArthur of South Africa.

To commemorate the 100th year of Japan's participation in the Olympic Games, a memorial marathon will be restaged in Stockholm on July 14 with Kanakuri's great-grandson participating.

While Kanakuri (1891-1983) is known as “the Father of Marathon” in Japan, he is famous in Sweden as “the missing Japanese” for his misadventures in the 1912 Olympic marathon.

Kanakuri lost consciousness during the race and strayed into a banker’s house. The organizers of this year's commemorative event determined the location of the house Kanakuri ran into.

At the site of the house, descendants of the banker family who cared for Kanakuri will prepare refreshments of cake, baked with a recipe of the time, and fruit juice to encourage runners on July 14.

“We obtained an old map to retrace the original course,” an organizing official said. “About 50 percent of the marathon course (of the upcoming race) is from the original course.”

In 1967 Kanakuri was invited to Sweden to finish the race.

Kanakuri, wearing a tie, ran only the homestretch of the course on that day at Stockholm's Olympic Stadium when he "completed" the marathon.

As he crossed the finish line, an announcement said, “The time was 54 years, 8 months, 6 days, 5 hours, 32 minutes and 20.3 seconds.” The event attracted much attention and was broadcast on Swedish television.

Yoshiaki Kurado, 25, a great-grandson of Kanakuri, has been invited to participate in the memorial marathon.

Even though Kurado, a company employee in Kumamoto, has never been active in track-and-field events, he completed a full marathon in his first try in February in a time of about 4 hours and 10 minutes.

"I am not confident, but I want to run the entire distance," he said.

By SOJI MASUDA/ Staff Writer
  • 1
submit to reddit

More AJW