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Cross Country Running

Cross country running has featured in three summer Olympics, in 1912, 1920, and 1924. There was one race held each Olympiad, with the results from the first three competitors for each nation to finish in this event also counted towards the cross country team result.

In 1920 in Paris, the legendary Finnish running Paavo Nurmi won the team and individual titles. The 1924 event was won by Nurmi again, however 23 of the 38 starters failed to finish the race due to the extreme heat and poisonous fumes from a nearby energy plant. Subsequently, cross-country running was dropped from the Games and has never returned.

Cross country running is still an event at the Olympic Games, though it is contested only as the fifth discipline of the modern pentathlon.

There is some lobbying for a cross-country running event to be included in the Winter Olympics program.

Paavo Nurmi leading the 1924 cross-country eventPaavo Nurmi leading the 1924 cross-country event

Individual Results


  1. Hannes Kolehmainen (Fin) 45:11.6
  2. Hjalmar Andersson (Swe) 45:44.8
  3. John Eke (Sweden) 46:37.6


  1. Paavo Nurmi (Fin) 27:15.0
  2. Eric Backman (Swe) 27:17.6
  3. Heikki Lilmatalainen (Fin) 27:37.4


  1. Paavo Nurmi (Fin) 32:54.8
  2. Ville Ritola (Fin) 34:19.4
  3. Earl Johnson (USA) 35:21.0

Team Event Results

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Olympics Extra

The next Olympics will be in Paris 2024, followed by the Winter edition in Milan-Cortina 2026. Check out the list of Olympic Games sports, as well as discontinued and demonstration sports.

Major Events Extra

The largest sporting event in the world is the Olympic Games, but there are many other multi-sport games. In terms of single sport events, nothing beats the FIFA World Cup. To see what's coming up, check out the calendar of major sporting events.

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