The longest marathon

On March 20, 1967 Japanese runner Shizo Kanakuri crossed the finish line on a marathon he started over 50 years prior with a time of 54 years, 246 days, 5 hours, 32 minutes, and 20.3 seconds. Guinness World Records recognizes this as the longest time to complete a marathon.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

In 1912 Japan sent its first team to the Olympics, held that year in Stockholm, Sweden. Japan’s team consisted of only two athletes, a sprinter named Yahiko Mishima and Shizo (this year Japan’s squad has 552 athletes).

Back then, the road from Japan to Sweden took weeks. First on a boat then aboard an arduous weeks-long train trip across the steppes of Siberia. By the time Shizo and his teammate arrived in Sweden, they were not only exhausted but also out of training. The only time they could workout was by running around station buildings during brief stops along the way.

When race day arrived in Stockholm on July 14, 1912 it was an unseasonably warm 32°C (89.6°F). Long distance running as a sport had not evolved to where it is today so the preparations were, shall we say, unorthodox. Nike’s famous waffle sole had not yet been invented. Shizo wore Japanese tabi on his feet and the cloth was all that protected him from the gravel path. And because it was thought that perspiration contributed to fatigue, he refused to drink any water while running.

As you can imagine, Shizo passed out from heatstroke and took refuge at a nearby villa to recover. After spending some time recuperating there, he decided to drop out of the race and caught a train back to his hotel and eventually returned back to Japan.

Because he never informed race officials that he dropped out of the race, Olympic officials marked him down as missing.

Meanwhile, back in Japan, Shizo went on to run in the 1920 and 1924 Olympics, established the famous Tokyo-Hakone-Tokyo College Ekiden race and is known as the father of the Japanese marathon.

Fast-forward to 1962 when a Swedish journalist happened upon Shizo and informed a very surprised Swedish National Olympic Committee that the missing marathoner was very much alive. As a marketing promotion, several Swedish businessmen invited Shizo to Sweden in 1967 to finish his marathon at 76 years of age. That’s the photo above.

Upon Swedish Olympic Committee representatives reading out his official finish time to the gathered press- 54 years, 8 months, 6 days, 5 hours, 32 minutes and 20.3 seconds- Kanakuri was asked if he’d like to say a few words about breaking a world record for slowest marathon ever run. Thinking for a moment, the elderly athlete shuffled to the microphone and said,

“It was a long trip. Along the way, I got married, had six children and 10 grandchildren.”

THE CURIOUS CASE OF SHIZO KANAKURI’S 1912 OLYMPIC MARATHON RUN

Hat tip to Tyler Kennedy for the pointer to this wonderful story.

Simone Biles

Much has been written about Simone Biles’ decision to withdraw from the team and individual all-round competition at the Tokyo Olympics. Despite the negative coverage accusing her of quitting it is instructive to look at her (and her team’s) responses in the press conference.

When reporters trained their questions on Biles’s emotional state, she spoke just as comfortably, talking about mental health in the same terms as fitness and recovery programs—another variable in the champion’s pursuit. She described the danger of pressing through and competing in her state, saying she didn’t want to “do something silly” and hurt herself. She called Osaka—another sport-defining Black woman—a source of inspiration. “I say put mental health first,” Biles said in response to a query about how she’d advise other athletes in similar circumstances. “Because if you don’t, you’re not going to enjoy your sport and you’re not going to succeed as much as you want to.”

Simone Biles and the New Language of Greatness

March Madness is our Koshien

What an amazing game played by UCF against Duke yesterday. I keep coming back to the final basket, those final seconds when everything hung in the balance, how it almost made it in, just a slightly-softer-touch. UCF was so close to upsetting a #1 seeded championship team. It was never supposed to be that close.

“It was up there forever, I felt like, in slow motion,” he said. “Once I saw it go past the midpoint and roll out, there was, at that point, nothing left to do.”

Heartbroken UCF proud it pushed No. 1 Duke during close NCAA Tournament loss

Then today I saw the locker room speech by the UCF coach, Johnny Dawkins, father of the player who just missed that last basket and a former player for Duke, the team that won. You can hear the sniffling in the background and really feel their loss. These boys, some of them seniors, were playing in the last game of their entire basketball career. They are at the peak of their career, if they are not getting picked up by a pro team, this is it.

For me it was an exciting game and an close loss. Exciting for sure but my bracket’s intact, I’m moving on. Just a close call. But to these kids, the loss must have been devastating. So many years invested up to that one final moment.

There is an annual high school baseball tournament in Japan that is very much like the March Madness tournament here in the United States. 4000+ teams across the country play in a national tournament that ends up with less than 20 teams going to a the famous Koshien Stadium in Japan in mid-August. The entire nation turns in during the hot summer evenings to watch their nation’s youth play their hearts out.

March Madness is our Koshien

Putting it on the line

“As I’ve been saying from the beginning, this process has been a sham,” Senator Booker said. “The fact that tens of thousands of documents revealing a Supreme Court nominee’s views on key issues were deemed Committee Confidential and not available to the public reflects the absurdity of this process. The public has a right to access documents about a Supreme Court nominee’s views on issues that are profoundly important, such as race and the law. This process has demonstrated an unprecedented level of secrecy and opaqueness that undermines the Senate’s Constitutional duty to advice and consent.”

www.booker.senate.gov

Never Give Up

In the final lap of a 4×400 relay Phil Healy, the anchor runner for University College Cork women’s team, was a quarter lap down and in 5th place. She had to make up a massive gap and ahead of her and runners to chase down included a future representative for Ireland in this Summer’s 2016 Olympics.

Not only will you see an amazing comeback in the video above, as a bonus, you’ll hear two Irish announcers falling over themselves as they witness history.

UCC from the depths of hell are powering through! one announcer says.

The Washington Post has the full story behind this incredible comeback.

It’s unbelievable! What a run!

Heineken Champions League

Heineken has long-running relationship with the UEFA Champions League tournament in Europe. Each year they run a series of advertisements running up to the contest that feature the fans and get everyone excited about the game.

This year’s installment is brilliant. The Dilemma pits an Italian fan’s love of the game against his faithfulness to his mates who get together to watch every game together on the couch.

Last year’s The Match illustrates what a ship of football freak sailors will do to get a TV signal of their favorite game.

Heineken Spain gets in on the game in 2014. Will you run out on your girlfriend?

2013 featured The Negotiation where the guys have to convince their wife or girlfriends to spend almost $2000 for a pair of stadium seats, “you don’t even have to worry about the dogs chewing on them.”

There’s more where these came from. Follow Heineken on YouTube for more.

Comanche, the new kid in town

Photo by Onne Van Der Wal
Photo by Onne Van Der Wal

In the world of sailing, the big boats are the Super Maxi class ocean-going racers. Netscape billionaire Jim Clark has commissioned Comanche, a 100 foot vessel that only a nautical architect with unlimited resources could dream up.

Comanche

Built in Maine for a cool $1.4 billion, it is currently on a ship enroute to Australia where it will compete in the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge in Sydney Harbour on December 9th, followed by the Rolex Sydney to Hobart race after Christmas.

Designed to win races and break records, it boasts an 11,000 square feet spinnaker.

h/t to my colleague Eli who sails the San Francisco Bay

Oh the Agony!

writhing time

The Wall Street Journal quantified the number of minutes spent watching men roll around in the grass glancing sidelong at the ref. I’m surprised to see the Italian “men of glass” so far down the list. In the 2014 World Cup it is the host nation who currently holds the title with Neymar who, “had five such “injuries,” the most on his team. In every case he was back on his feet within 15 seconds.”

The World Cup Flopping Rankings