At the 1904 St. Louis Olympics, to which Britain did not send a delegation but at which it did earn two medals by virtue of owning Ireland, the first-place finisher in the marathon, a New York City bricklayer, was disqualified for having covered eleven miles of the course by automobile. The runner-up, a British-Bostonian brazier competing for America, whose trainers had administered him strychnine and brandy and egg whites and who had been borne along by officials for part the race, was declared the victor.
Other marathon runners included a five-foot Cuban postman who supposedly, as if in a children’s book, stopped to eat apples in an orchard, fell ill, fell asleep, then got back up and placed fourth. Two tribesmen from Orange Free State, who were part of an ethnographic sideshow at the World’s Fair, to which the Olympics were themselves a side show, finished respectably, though one was chased far off course by dogs. More than half the entrants failed to complete the race.