A member of Japan’s very first Olympic team, Kanakuri was running for his country in the 1912 Stockholm games when he dropped out due to heat. He took refuge in a nearby garden in Sollentuna, whose owners provided him with refreshments, clothing and later arranged for his journey back to Stockholm.
Kanakuri fled in disgrace and scuttled back to Japan on his own. At that point, Swedish officials lost track of him, and despite his turning up again at the 1920 and 1924 Olympics, they would conclude that he had disappeared altogether.
Then, in 1966, someone in Sweden apparently got to wondering where Japan’s pioneering marathoner had gone. The Swedish Television tracked him down in Japan, and the Swedish Olympic Committee invited him to Stockholm to finish his run.
The gracious Kanakuri took advantage of the opportunity, and finally made his triumphant symbolic entrance into Stockholm Olympic Stadium, clocked at a blistering 54 years, eight months, six days, 8 hours, and 32 minutes.