Longest time to complete a marathon
Shiso Kanakuri
54:249:5:32:20.3 year(s):day(s):hour(s):minute(s):second(s)
Sweden (Stockholm)

On 14 July 1912, Shiso (sometimes Shizo) Kanakuri (Japan; 1891–1982) started the marathon at the Stockholm Olympics and technically wouldn’t finish until 20 March 1967. With an elapsed time of 54 years, 249 days, 5 hours, 32 minutes, 20.3 seconds, this represents the longest duration to complete a marathon. After collapsing during the 1912 Stockholm Olympics race, in embarrassment Kanakuri returned home without telling anyone. Declared missing by Swedish officials until 1967, at the age of 75, he was discovered living comfortably in Tamana, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan, with his family and was invited to complete the race once and for all with the help of Swedish Television.

While this is a very memorable part of his life, Kanakuri’s legacy is not defined by this moment, but by his achievements in sports. Prior to this race, he competed to be one of the first Japanese athletes to be included in the Olympics on 19 November 1911 and was placed 1st, with a time of 2 hours 32 minutes 30 seconds. He was one of only two Japanese athletes to qualify and attend the 1912 Summer Olympics.

In 1919, Kanakuri earned 16th place at the Antwerp Olympics in Belgium.

But for many, Kanakuri’s greatest achievement is seen to be his creation of the Tokyo-Hakone Round-Trip College Ekiden Race, a 218-km relay race contested by universities around Japan every New Year’s that has been widely credited for the popularization of long-distance running among Japanese youth, earning Kanakuri the title “father of Japanese marathon”.