11. The nearly month long marathon, April 1, 1981
The British tabloid Daily Mail has long been criticized for its sensationalism, its practice of printing stories of a vague and frightening nature, and for its inaccuracies in reporting. It has also been the target of criticism for copyright violations from time to time. Its sensationalist nature provides it with cover, as it were, when some of its stories appear to be, shall we say, of questionable veracity. Such was the case on April Fools’ Day, 1981, when the paper reported a story of a Japanese long distance runner who had come to England for the London Marathon, and due to a misunderstanding, believed the race consisted of 26 days, rather than 26 miles. According to the Daily Mail, he was still running.
Kimo Nakajimi, the evidently quite fit runner, was reported by the newspaper as being “somewhere” on the roads of the United Kingdom, doggedly determined to complete the marathon. The misunderstanding was attributed to a translation error, but the race officials were unable to determine the exact location of the runner, in part because he was in constant motion. According to the article, numerous residents of the British Isles spotted the runner, who refused to stop when hailed. According to a race official quoted in the article, the misunderstanding was fed by the fact that such grueling endurance races were common in Japan, and thus seemed normal to Kimo.