Today in 1967, a Japanese athlete Shizo Kanakuri, finished a marathon that he’d started in 1912.

This story will obviously take some explaining.

Kanakuri was part of Team Japan during the 1912 Summer Olympics, which were taking place in Stockholm, Sweden.

Actually, he was half of the team, since there were only two athletes and the country wasn’t chipping in for athletes’ expenses.

Just to get to the Games was a challenge: 10 days on trains, during which he could only practice when there was a stop at a train station.

Kanakuri wasn’t exactly 100 percent when he arrived at the marathon.

Then he had to compete wearing street shoes, not the ones the other athletes were using.

And it was about 90°F outside on the day of the race.

Out of the 68 runners, only 34 would finish.

Kanakuri gave it his all, and made it about two-thirds through the course.

But he eventually either got lost, or ran out of gas, or both.

He ended up at a farmhouse, where a Swedish family took the exhausted athlete in, gave him a bed and food and a change of clothes and let him recuperate.

Kanakuri eventually headed home to Japan, but he hadn’t notified the Olympic authorities what had happened.

Officially he was listed as missing.

Even though he went on to compete in two more Olympiads, there were stories that he was still out running around the Stockholm area, trying to find the finish line!

What he was actually doing was using his experience in Sweden to improve training for long distance runners in Japan.

He’s sometimes called Japan’s “father of the marathon.”

And decades after that ill-fated run, Swedish television caught up with Kanakuri and invited the then 75 year father of six and grandfather of ten to finish the race he’d started back in 1912.

There, he spent time with the family that had taken him in when the original race went off track… and then he crossed the finish line.

His marathon time: 54 years 246 days, five hours, 32 minutes, 20.3 seconds.

An announcer said over the loudspeakers, “This concludes all the events from the 1912 Stockholm Games.”

Here’s another story from the Better Late Than Never department.

Hannah Jung posted this on social media in 2022.

“For all the people that think they are bad at responding to emails: I emailed a professor 12 years ago asking about source recommendations for a paper I was writing for a class during my undergrad. He replied to my email TODAY.”

Better late than never for Japan’s first, “slowest” Olympian (Japan Times)

Hannah Jung For all the people that think they are bad at responding to emails (Hannah Jung on Twitter via Bored Panda)

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Photo by Derbeth – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikicommons