We’re well into January and I’m still ploughing my way through The Second Book of General Ignorance, or why everything you think you know is still wrong.
I’m a sucker for obscure and quirky facts and one of my favourites from this edition is the slowest recorded time for and Olympic marathon — 54 years, 8 months, 6 days, 32 minutes and 20.3 seconds.
It is held by the Japanese runner, Shizo Kanakuri who entered the 1912 Olympics held in Stockholm. Exhausted after his eighteen day journey, he stopped for a rest after 19 miles and begged a glass of water at a nearby house. He then fell asleep on the sofa and didn’t wake up until the following morning, missing the finish of the race.
In 1967, when he was 76, he was invited back to Stockholm to complete the race which he did, hence the ludicrous time.
Another favourite fact concerns the shrinking Y chromosome which has lost 1,393 of its original 1,438 genes over the last 300 million years. As a result, women are now genetically closer to chimpanzees than men are because the X chromosome has changed less rapidly.
I don’t recommend pointing this out at home though, especially if you wife or partner is holding a rolling pin at the time.