This one's for all those attempting the marathon next year.
Shizo Kanakuri - slowest marathon
In 1912, Kanakuri entered the 1912 Summer Olympic marathon in Stockholm. He'd been clocking some impressive times in the previous year and had even recorded a marathon world record, although there was some disagreement about the distance of that particular course. This marathon however, wasn't going to be his best showing. Due to the stifling heat, he lost consciousness part way through the race and was cared for by a local farming family. For whatever reason, he decided to return to Japan immediately and got on the first ship home. What he neglected to do was inform the Swedish authorities.
In the eyes of the Olympic and Swedish officials, Kanakuri had simply disappeared. He was officially listed as a missing person and nobody bothered to check if he'd gone home. You have to remember that this was 1912 and were this to happen today, race officials could simply look at his twitter feed to check his progress ('Passed out, gone home. Don't like Sweden anymore.').
Even though Kanakuri raced in the 1920 Olympics, he was still listed as missing in Sweden. As he hadn't retired from the race but had simple gone AWOL, the clock was still ticking..
In 1962, a Swedish journalist tracked down Kanakuri (i.e. he called him at his home) and told him what had happened. In 1966 he was invited back to finish his race and clocked a time of 54 years, 8 months, 6 days, 8 hours, 32 minutes and 20.3 seconds. He was 75.
In his heyday, he was know in Japan as the Father of Marathons. To us, he's a true Slow Champion.