The 1904 Olympic Marathon May Have Been the Strangest Ever

America’s first Olympics may have been its worst, or at least its most bizarre. Held in 1904 in St. Louis, the games were tied to that year’s World’s Fair. Although there were moments of surprising and genuine triumph — like when gymnast George Eyser earned six medals, including three gold, despite his wooden leg — the 1904 marathon was less of a showstopper and more of a sideshow. A few of the runners were recognized marathoners who had either won or placed in the Boston Marathon, but the majority was an assorted lot of middle-aged men trying to make their personal dreams come true. One of the men — a bricklayer named Fred Lorz — stopped running because of exhaustion after nine miles. His manager gave him a lift in his car and drove him the next 11 miles. Then Lorz hopped out of the car and continued on foot back to the Olympic stadium, where he broke the finishing line tape and was greeted as the winner of the race. Though he initially went along with it, Lorz soon admitted that it was a joke, after spectators claimed he had cheated by not running the entire race. Thomas Hicks went on to become the real winner. Lorz was initially banned for life, but was reinstated after he apologized for the stunt and it was found that he hadn’t intended to defraud. He won the Boston Marathon in 1905 with a time of 2:38:25.