The London Olympic Marathon of 1908 went down in history. The summer heat hit the city, and a newly resurfaced track stretched under the runners’ feet. Then, at the last minute, the course was extended by nearly two miles, setting the official marathon length to an arbitrary 26 miles and 385 yards. Fifty-five runners started off from Windsor Castle, but only 27 reached the finish line. The majority of runners quit before the halfway mark. For a badly needed boost, a number of competitors turned to unlikely, but common-at-the-time sources: brandy, glasses of bubbly, and strychnine (best known now as rat poison). Marathon is not a simple walk in the park, but betting on Olympic Games from the comfort of your home via best betting agent will ensure some good winnings.
This may seem crazy today, but people once believed alcohol and strychnine cocktails were performance enhancers. The drinks were handed out like Gatorade to endurance athletes. Modern use of alcohol in sports can be traced back to the competitive foot races of the 19th century, which were very long walks of dozens or hundreds of miles that captivated Great Britain. The contending “pedestrians” were advised to drink lots of champagne during competition, classy, isn’t it?
Other commonly used substances included various alcohols and dangerous drugs—from strychnine to heroin or cocaine—which were meant to mask pain, increase aggressiveness, and/or give a quick energy boost. Every trainer had his own secret cocktail, and people didn’t stop using heroin and cocaine as performance-enhancing additives until the 1920s, and athletes boozed during competition all the way into the ‘70s and ‘80s.
At first, it seemed to work. In 1896, during the inaugural modern Olympic Games, the Greek marathon runner Spiridon Louis knocked back a glass of cognac with six miles left to go in the race and went on to take the gold. And at the 1908 Olympic Marathon, at least a handful of runners imbibed alcohol or strychnine cocktails during the race—including the first four to cross the finish line.
At the finish line, 80,000 spectators waited for a “exultant victor.” Instead they got an Italian pastry chef named Dorando Pietri, a little man, with red running-drawers. In the last quarter mile alone, an exhausted and boozed Pietri had collapsed five times, run in the wrong direction, and even had to have the area over his heart massaged by concerned medics.
In a now-famous photograph we can see Pietri crossing the finish line, a hollowed cork can be seen in his hand. Clenching cork wedges helped runners relieve strain on their hands and fingers, but when hollowed-out, they acted as vessels for wine, brandy, and other questionable substances. In the end, concern for Pietri’s life resulted in the runner being supported across the finish line by a doctor, which his eventual disqualification and a redistribution of the race’s medals. Some attribute Pietri’s physical downfall to being drunk, while others think it was to the rat poison.
Thanks to various studies on the effects of alcohol on muscle groups and hydration, trainers no longer offer athletes strychnine cocktails or glasses of booze. Alcohol is still an option for runners who want to enhance their performance, but thankfully, they no longer drink rat poison before a competition. Don’t be too risky and better register via best betting agent to ensure the best odds and limits of the market.