The 1904 Olympic marathon Wiki entry is incredibly wild

If you’ve ever wondered what the early stages of the Olympic Games looked like, then you’re in luck.

The 1904 Games of the III Olympiad took place in St. Louis, Missouri over in the United States, and to say they were messy was an understatement. Between the Russo–Japanese War and the difficulty of actually reaching the country, it should come as no surprise that we didn’t see many elite level athletes outside of North America taking part in the Games.

The ‘great’ Olympic marathon

The Olympics that year were actually head as part of the World’s Fair, ensuring there was a whole lot of strange pageantry associated with the events – including the marathon.

While there were established runners involved in the race we also had sideshow acts such as Fred Lorz. Lorz did all his training at night due to his day role as a bricklayer and gained entry into the marathon by winning a “special” five-mile race. Oh, and there were also a few Greeks there who had never competed at this distance in their lives.

In the following, now-viral, tweets, this user sums up some of the race’s most iconic moments as described through its Wikipedia page.

“The first to arrive at the finish line was Fred Lorz, who had actually dropped out of the race after nine miles and hitched a ride back to the stadium in a car, waving at spectators and runners alike during the ride.” Was one line from the summary.

Another snippet read: “Thomas Hicks ended up the winner of the event, although he was aided by measures that would not have been permitted in later years. Ten miles from the finish, Hicks led the race by a mile and a half, but he had to be restrained from stopping and lying down by his trainers. From then until the end of the race, Hicks received several doses of strychnine (a common rat poison, which stimulates the nervous system in small doses) mixed with brandy.”

Between the explicit cheating and the fact there was only really one place to stop for water, it’s a miracle this didn’t end in disaster.

Of course as the years have gone on the rules have tightened, ensuring the likes of Lorz can no longer ride their way to the gold medal.

The Games of 1904 were just the third in the Olympics franchise and some fine-tuning was obviously needed. Alas, even through all of the madness, this race still lives on fondly in the memory of those who love athletics.

If you’d have been around back then, would you have fancied your chances?

Featured image credit: Getty