Tracy S. Morris

Quirky Mysteries, Screwball Fantasy and Sassy History

Archon Con Report

Written By: Tracy - Oct• 10•16

The last weekend of September/first weekend of October I went to Archon in St. Louis.  This was the first time I attended Archon in about 15 years.  It usually falls on my birthday weekend, so I have to make the choice of either going to Archon, or letting my family spoil me.  The struggle is real, ya’ll. 

One audience member drew quick sketches of each of us and had us sign it. I’m the necklace and bracelet in the corner.

So the Friday of the convention, I loaded the car and drove the 6 hours to Collinsville (actually across the river from St. Louis, but meh, details.) and I made it in time to moderate my first panel: world building. Where I found out that the convention center’s wifi wasn’t great, so I couldn’t access my notes in Evernote. Wah wah. 

But everyone on the panel (Lettie Prell, Angie Fox, Jimmy D. Gillentine and Kristin Bailey) all had good things to say. We had a good audience with lots of questions so all I really had to do was make sure that everyone got a turn to speak, and that we stayed on topic. 

I had an author reading at 4:00, with actual audience (Including Tony Stark)!  I had advertised that I would read the coffee/zombie/cargo cult story, but couldn’t access it due to the wifi issues.  Instead I read two of my newer short stories, Dear Dr. Wintergreen (don’t get kidnapped by pirates), and When Wizards Come Knocking (pretend you’re not home). And since we were in St. Louis, I told them the story of the 1904 St. Louis Olympics and marathon from I am Not Making This Up. Thanks to my roomie, Julia Mandala for loaning me her iPhone so I could access the article for reference. 

At 7:00 I sat on The Ethics Of Super Powers, where the moderator, my roomie Tex Thompson dubbed my book mini-cards as choking hazards. Other panelists included R.J. Carter and Brock J. Hanke. 

Then I ran for the other side of the convention center so that I wouldn’t be late to moderate the Original Marvel TV panel – and broke up the previous panel that hadn’t yet wrapped up by charging up the asile announcing that I’m sorry that I’m late.  (Huge apologies to the 501’st legion for that).

Highlights of the panel included seeing Brad Denton, as well as seeing Don Price’s Shield agent Patton Oswald and hearing Jack Snyder talk about his experiences writing for one of the shark week b movies. 

And then I ran out of that panel to zip over to the Yard Dog Press 20th anniversary Roadshow, where I thoroughly made a spectacle of myself, as usual. 

I saw her and started to sing “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens.”

Archon is a huge costuming convention. So there were tons of hall costumes, in addition to the Saturday masquerade competition. I was not wearing a costume, but when Julia and I meandered through the lobby of the host hotel, we bumped into a 10 foot cardboard Optimus Prime grooving to dance music from the concert, a human-sized ewok (Wicket), Furiosa and the Five Wives, among others.  

At one point Lettie Prell and I bumped into the Mad Hatter, who wanted to know where our costumes were.  When we told him that we didn’t have any, he gave us each a playing card t-shirt.  I was the four of clubs. 

Despite staying up late and not having a panel until noon Saturday, my Mom habits kicked in and I was awake by 7:30. After breakfast, I was even able to move around without feeling like a zombie. 

I arrived at my noon panel just as Van Allen Plexio from the previous panel was leaving.  His book Lucian looks interesting, so it’s probably going onto my Amazon wish list. 

My noon panel was “Our Favorite Series,” which I took to mean TV, but some of the other panelists took to mean books.  One even said that they never watch tv. There was a huge age range in the audience as well. So since I was moderating, I decided to make it a round the room discussion and take reccomendations from the audience as well. (The other panelists were David Phelps, Cheryl Medley and Deborah Millitello.)

Things I recommended included Fraction’s run on Hawkeye, The Discworld series, and Sherry Priest’s Clockwork Century books.  Others reccomended a Manga called The Leftover Princess, the blog Word Wenches, and a book called Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. 

At 2:00 I sat in on the All Things Sherlock Holmes panel with Van Allen Plexico again, Marella Sands and Deborah Millitello again.  There the topic ranged from favorite portrayal of Sherlock (my current favorite is Sir. Ian McKellan) to which adaptation did the better Sherlock Scan.

Then I had to rush back across the convention center to moderate a panel on the new Star Wars movies coming out with Jimmy D. Gillentine and Paul Hahn. The audience for this one was packed, and I spent nearly as much time admiring the costumes in the audience as I did moderating.  There was a very convincing Captain Jack Sparrow, a dwarf standing on boxes, and a guy with a great red coat. 

We talked about what we liked about The Force Awakens, that Kylo Ren’s actual name is Darth Emo, how Mark Hamill is our favorite internet troll, how Grand Admiral Thrawn was brought into Rebels, and rumors about Rogue One and Episode VIII. 

After that, Julia and I got dinner and got back in time for the Masquerade. It started strong with a well done Spartain Batman, and a few hall costumes I’d seen that day like Jack Sparrow (Captain Jack Sparrow!). There was a well done Troll bridge and a creepy Krampus as well as a couple of cute high concept costume and skits like Pokémon Kung Fu and captain Barbieosa (pink pirate Barbie).

Hall costumes can be just as much fun as the masquerade. This is master chef. Hopefully not Swedish.

My favorite by far was “Bigfoot goes to Mardi Gras,” which was a hulking Sasquatch covered head to toe in Mardi Gras beads. 

If you want to see them all, you can see photos on the Archon Masquerade Facebook page. Sorry to say we didn’t stick around to find out who won, and I haven’t seen it announced.  Perhaps they’ll put that information up on the Facebook page soon. 


Sunday I had one panel, on Horses and magical horse-like beings in fiction. Marella Sanda moderated, and Walt Boyes and Rachel Neumeier sat in on the discussion. This one was one of my favorites, since I grew up around horses.  My favorite point to not was that the Ancient Scythian horse archers were supposed to be the inspiration for the centaur. 

After the panel wrapped, I headed home so that I could tuck the kids in. 


Things I missed (but wished I’d seen):

How to Tell a Good Indie Publisher From a Bad 

Podcasting 101


The verdict: A++, would Archon again.  Zo and the programming staff put together a great show, and the rest of the convention was lots of fun. 


I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 5 That Time the French King Was Cannibalized (Podcast Version)

Written By: Tracy - Oct• 03•16

The only king for which “Eat Your Heart Out” was literal.

This is the oddball history story that set me on the road to writing strange history articles.  When I started up my podcast, I knew I wanted to do it as an episode.

France’s King Louis XIV, “The Sun King” created a cult of personality around the monarch and royal family to inject stability into the monarchy.  When he died, his internal organs were removed and buried separate (with lots of pomp and circumstance).

By the Victorian Era, Louis’s heart had found it’s way into the mouth of William Buckland.

My Archon Schedule

Written By: Tracy - Sep• 26•16

I’ll be at Archon 40 in St. Louis this weekend. This is my last planned appearance of the year. 


My schedule is as follows:


1:00 world building (I’m Moderating!)

4:00 author reading 

7:00 the ethics of superpowers  

8:00 Original Marvel TV (Moderating again!)

9:00 Yard Dog Press Traveling Roadshow



12:00 Our Favorite Series (Moderating!)

2:00 All Things Sherlock Holmes 

3:00 Star Wars the Force Awakens, Rogue One and Episode 8 (Moderating!)



10:00 Horse stories – Pegasus, Unicorn and the dreaded kelpie


Hope to see you there!

I’m Not Making This Up – How Do You Solve A Problem Like Mad King Ludwig?

Written By: Tracy - Sep• 19•16

He sort of looks like a broody vampire.

You have to admire Mad King Ludwig. Unlike other mad royals (Jonna of Castile, for one) Ludwig aggressively owned his crazy.  Or did he?

When Ludwig came to the throne in 1846, people thought he was a little eccentric. But then again, aren’t all wealthy folk? And who cares, when you have brooding good looks and a tendency to support the arts? (It worked for Edward Cullen)

But right from the beginning, the signs were there. Distant parents, and a tendency to get lost in his own little fantasy world.

Then Ludwig suffered a crushing defeat to Prussia. For the rest of Ludwig’s life, he’d only rule as a vassal of Prussia.

The pressures of ruling (combined with his sexual orientation and pressure to get married and produce an heir) may have caused Ludwig to retreat into his increasingly active fantasy life. Which would have been fine, if it wasn’t wrecking Bavaria’s economy.

Ludwig commissioned private operas, lavish gardens, fanciful sleighs for traveling at night (he slept all day and stayed up at night), gave lavish gifts to peasants (peasants!) and built fantasy castles that would later inspire Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle.

Although Ludwig used his personal fortune to build each of his three castles and his royal apartments in Munich, his debt lowered Bavaria’s credit. His ministers asked him to slow down the spending and economize. (Much like a parent might ask their college kids: do you really need three credit cards, the Bavarian Ministers asked Ludwig, do you really need three castles?)

Eventually, the ministers had enough. Ludwig’s spending, his refusal to schmooze with his courtiers or even visit Munich, his refusal to attend state functions (or do anything kingly) and his insistence on behaving like an artist rather than a monarch (the nerve) was too much for Ludwig’s ministers. They asked dear uncle Lutipold to step in.

Lutipold refused, unless they could prove beyond any doubt that Ludwig was crazy. To which the ministers no doubt said: noooo problem. In no time, the ministers hired a specialist who diagnosed Ludwig sight unseen. Lutipold took over as regent, and Ludwig was confined to one of his fantasy castles, where he promptly died (officially drowned, but possibly shot during an escape attempt) along with the physician who declared him insane (convenient, that).

So was Mad King Ludwig really insane? Modern psychology would disagree with a diagnosis when the doctor didn’t even see the patient. It’s possible that if Ludwig hadn’t been a prince, he would’ve been a successful artist and architect.

Every dollar Ludwig sank his country into debt, they make back now on tourism.


I Am Not Making This Up – Santa Anna Was A Leg Man

Written By: Tracy - Sep• 12•16

Most know General Antonio López de Santa Anna as the man who ordered the slaughter of Texas Defenders (including Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie) at the Battle of the Alamo, lost at the battle of San Jacinto, served as president of Mexico 11 times, and eventually became known as “the Napoleon of the West.”

But less well known, is Santa Anna’s obsession with his own leg. 

Two years after the battle of San Jacinto, during the “pastry war” of 1838 (which was not a giant pie fight, as awesome as that sounds), the French and Mexico were at war. Santa Anna had to have his leg amputated after being wounded while defending Vera Cruz from the invading French.

Four years later, (in between his sixth and seventh time serving as president of Mexico) Santa Anna held a state funeral for his leg, complete with cannonade salutes, speeches, prayers and poems dedicated to himself. He then buried the leg in a fancy vessel beneath a monument to his own awesome.

Santa Anna then used the publicity from his state funeral to win another term as president. During parades, he would hold his prosthetic leg up so that people could see that he’d made sacrifices on behalf of Mexico. (He had three prosthetics made. One was a simple peg leg. The other two were expensive, custom cork prosthetics with a foot on a ball bearing. Each fitted with a square-toed boot.)

Two years after burying his leg, Santa Anna would lose two of the prosthetics (one of the custom legs, and the peg) to the Americans (because the entire southwest was not enough). During a battle, he was eating lunch when the 4th Illinois infantry surprised him. The president general jumped on a horse and rode away, leaving his lunch, his gold and his legs behind. 

The custom prosthetic leg is the centerpiece of a diorama at the Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield. The display shows Illinois troops seizing Santa Anna’s camp. 

Only the leg is authentic here.

The peg leg was used as a baseball bat and is on display at the Oglesby Manor in Decatur Illinois. 

Mexico and Texas have both asked that Illinois give up the prosthetic legs (and have been turned down). The story of the leg has been featured on the tv show “King of the Hill.”

Santa Anna’s interred actual leg was dug up by an angry mob, dragged through the streets and thrown onto a garbage heap. 

He served as President of Mexico 11 times, lived in and out of exile, died in 1876 and was buried with full military honors. Unlike his leg, he was not dug up and thrown on a trash pile. 

I Am Not Making This Up: Ep. 4 The Most Bonkers Race in Olympic History

Written By: Tracy - Sep• 05•16

Olympics_poster.jpgNext time someone mentions the plight of the Olympic athlete, remember that it’s not that bad.  They could be forced to run a marathon through a cloud of dust while wearing cutoff shorts, having cramps & being chased by dogs while their trainers try to poison them.

I’d like to apologize for possibly mispronouncing some of the names of the runners in the audio.  I tried, but not all of them had a pronounciation guide with them.

Research links for this podcast: The 1904 Olympic Marathon May have Been the Strangest Ever

LA Times: Sports Legend Revealed: A Marathon Runner Nearly Died Because of the Drugs He took Took To Help Him Win The First Winner of The 1904 Marathon Used A Car, The Second Winner Used Drugs & Booze 8 Unusual Facts About the 1904 Olympics


I’m Not Making This Up – Do A Good Deed, Find Your Father’s Body Snatchers

Written By: Tracy - Aug• 29•16

Poor John Scott Harrison. You would think that being a State Representative, son of a President and father of another President would get you some respect. Or at least keep grave robbers away. Unfortunately, in Harrison’s case, you’d be wrong.

Of course, Harrison only served two terms in office. His father, William Henry Harrison (9th president of the United States) was the first president to die in office (less than a month after his inauguration). His son, Benjamin Harrison (the guy who served in between Grover Cleveland’s two terms) was not yet elected at the time of John Scott’s death. Though you would think that having the last name Harrison and being buried in the William Henry Harrison Tomb State Memorial would count for something. Apparently not.

Back then, as now, medical students studied anatomy by looking at actual corpses. But unlike now, there wasn’t an option for someone to donate their body to science. So universities made do. Where making do meant paying anyone off the street who just happened to turn up with a dead, not obviously murdered body (the fresher the better, no questions asked).

Because of the big bucks one could score from a freshly dead body, grave robbing became big business (and medical universities had a shady reputation).

Usually grave robbers stuck to cemeteries where the live relatives weren’t going to protest (usually poor, usually non-white. Because humans are terrible). In this case, the grave robbers got a little too aggressive.

The Harrison family noticed that a nearby fresh grave, belonging to Agustus Devin, had been robbed. Worried that the same fate would befall John Scott Harrison, the family built a brick and cement vault around his casket.

Then the Harrison boys set out to find those no-account grave robbers. First they got a warrant, then they stormed up to the Ohio Medical College in high dudgeon. Instead of young Mr. Devin, the John Harrison found his own father hidden under a trap door.

It seems that in the night after the funeral, someone had pried away stones at the foot of the coffin, and pulled the corpse out by the feet. The thieves had to have watched the family install the slab. Otherwise they would have tried (unsuccessfully) to get at the body from another direction.

The grave robbery set off a national scandal. If Harrison’s body wasn’t safe from grave robbers, was anyone’s? It didn’t help that the doctors didn’t seem ashamed that they’d stolen and nearly dissected a famous civil servant.

Thanks to the incident, 5 states increased penalties on grave robbing, and undercut the grave robbing business by allowing medical universities to use unclaimed corpses in their studies.

I Am Not Making This Up – The Pirate Queen Of Denmark

Written By: Tracy - Aug• 22•16

The start of the ladies hen night tradition.

There’s a sea chanty that repeatedly asks what you do with a drunken sailor early in the morning. It came to mind as I heard this story.

So what do you do if you’re a Scandinavian princess, locked in a tower and guarded by snakes? What do you do when your royal parents give your hand to a prince against your wishes?

If you’re princess Awilda, you get your best girlfriends to rescue you and you run away to become pirates.

Not much is known about Awilda. She lived in the 5th century, and her father was Synardus, king of Gotland. For whatever reason (we’re thinking to increase his swagger) King Synardus locked Awilda in the aforementioned tower of his royal palace and guarded the place with the aforementioned snakes (after all, nothing says “my daughter is marriageable” than huge “keep out” signs).

According to legend, Alf, the crown prince of Denmark (who probably looked like Chris Hemsworth in Thor) was so taken with the whole princess in a tower thing that he fought his way through the snakes to ask Synardus for Awilda’s hand in marriage. And, like Mjolnier to Thor, Synardus looked at Alf and said: you are worthy!

I wouldn’t say no.

But Awilda wasn’t impressed. So, according to legend she and a group of her ladies dressed as men, stole (commendeered!) a ship and sailed off to become pirates.

As luck would have it, the very first ship the lady marauders attacked had just lost their captain. The defeated guy pirates took one look at the victorious lady pirates and said: you’ll do!

Awilda and her coed Scandinavian pirate crew commenced raiding all over the Scandinavian coast. Whereupon the king of Denmark said “Pirates? Here? This will not stand!” (Or something equally kingly) and sent Alf the snake fighter to get rid of the pirates.

Alf and his men caught up to Awilda and her band of pirates and defeated them, but his skill in battle impressed Awilda. When Prince Alf confronted the pirate captain, she revealed herself to be his fiancée (probably the same way that Eowyn unmasked herself to the Witch King, by declaring “I’m no man” and jerking off her helmet to reveal flowing blonde hair).

And then she stabbed him in the face.

Alf and Awilda married right there on board the ship, according to legend and the two ruled happily as king and Queen of Denmark.

Hey, I may not be making this up, but someone else might have.

There’s Always Room For Pizza

Written By: Tracy - Aug• 15•16

Hubby and I love Chicago style pizza.  Like, if he hadn’t married me, he might consider popping a knee to a deep dish pie.  So when I planned July’s date night – A showing of Mystic Pizza, and a couple pizzas of his choice, Chicago style deep dish was going on the menu.

Now what makes Chicago style pizza different isn’t just that you bake it in a cake pan. ( I used a springform pan. The kind you use to make cheesecake in.) the sauce is thicker, the toppings are in reverse order (cheese on bottom, sauce on top). And the dough is laminated with butter (like croissants, puff pastry or cronut dough). So the crust is very buttery and flaky.

It takes longer to make than the ordinary hand-tossed dough I make at least once a month for the kids. But oh so worth it.

The recipe that I used makes two crusts, so for the second pizza, hubby and I made a dulce de leche fruit pizza. First I baked the crust in the oven. Then I made the dulce de leche by putting a whole can of sweetened condensed milk into a pressure cooker, filling with water and cooking for 40 minutes.  The result is tasty, and rich.  We actually used low-sugar sweetened condensed milk, and I was glad for it because the resulting desert was so rich. How rich?  Richer than Trump before he funded his own election campaign.  Richer than Scrooge McDuck swimming in his own vault of money.  Pretty darn rich.

I poured about half the can of dulce de leche on the pizza and topped with about three cups of blueberries. The result was heavenly. Possibly, this is one I could make using crescent roll bread or leftover puff pastry. (Psh. Whenever is there leftover puff pastry?)

My pizza recipe is here.

And the blueberry pizza recipe is here.


I Am Not Making This Up: That Failboaty Third Olympics

Written By: Tracy - Aug• 08•16
The torch has barely been lit on the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as of this writing. Already the news media is focused on the sewer-like conditions of the swimming venues, the possibility of everyone and their grandma getting the Zika Virus and the slum-like housing that the athletes are supposed to stay in (as opposed to the slum-like housing that everyone else in Rio must live in, if you believe any movie set in Rio).

Like the movie Rio.

It seems like the go-to story for modern Olympic coverage is about how awful conditions are, or how the venue falls apart once the Olympics are over. Compared to the glowing reports of LA, Lake Placid or that one place in Scandinavia when we were so focused on Tonia Harding.
But awful Olympic shenanigans (totally the name of my next cover band: Tracy and the Awful Olympic Shenanigans) aren’t reserved for the 21st century.  Way back in 1904, the Olympics were pretty wonky. 

The last time anyone ever thinks the World’s Fair and the Olympics are two great tastes that taste great together – for good reason.

First, St. Louis stole the Olympics
These days there is a pretty significant bid process for the Olympics.  Prospective cities have to show the International Olympic Committee (IOC) everything from their proposed venues, to how they’ll cope with the sewage from all those extra tourists (hint: not by dumping it in the swimming venues).
There was a bid process back at the turn of the 20th century too. But the Olympics was in it’s infancy in those days.  There has only been two other games at that point.  Athens (the inaugural games) and Paris (held in conjunction with the World’s Fair). 
To host the first Olympics of the new century, Chicago got the nod.  But at the same time, St. Louis was on deck for hosting the World’s Fair (the Meet Me In St. Louie World’s Fair, which was kind of a big deal).  
St. Louis threw a bit of a tantrum (like a kid at Christmas who thinks his brother got the bigger gift) and said “either let us host the Olympics, or we’ll throw our own competing sporting event.” 
At which point Chicago, the IOC and everyone else involved threw up their hands in defeat and let St. Louis have the whole ball of yarn. 
Then St. Louis Half-Assed It
Now keep in mind that there was precedent in holding the World’s Fair and Olympic Games together.  Paris had done so-and done a decent job at it.  But the organizers of the St. Louis fair never planned the Olympic Games to be anything other than a sideshow for the World’s Fair. 
That kind of attitude might explain why the Olympic Games lasted nearly 5 months. The fair’s organizers tried to stretch the events over the length of the fair by hosting one event per day.  Additionally, non-Olympic events were promoted as Olympic events. This happened so often that later on the IOC had to rule on which events were actually Olympic events, and which were not (the ones that were hosted by the local YMCA were not). 
And forget the opening ceremony with a parade of nations and torch lighting. The fair’s organizer didn’t even bother to invite anyone to open the games. He chose to do it himself. 
Then Other Nations Gave St. Louis An Epic Side-Eye
Let’s just say that St. Louis wasn’t the transportation capital of the world in 1904.  Plus there was a war going on between Russia and Japan. 
Getting to the central United States from anywhere other than the United States wasn’t easy, cheap, or quick. So a lot of potential athletes just didn’t go. 
On the bright side for the US, this left mainly US competitors. The medal count was never so one-sided in favor of any nation before or since. (Even the Russians didn’t score as many medals in the 1980 Moscow summer games that half the world boycotted because of the Cold War.)
Although, some of the winners that were put down as Americans were actually immigrants who hadn’t established citizenship.  As recently as 2012 Norway was trying to get the IOC to recognize that two gold-medalist wrestlers from the 1904 games were actually Norwegian. 
Some Events Were Problematic
We’re not talking tug-of-war (which was a thing). We’re talking the Anthropology Days (sadly, also a thing). 
One of the unfortunate parts of the World’s Fair back in the day was the human zoo. Basically the organizers would bring in “uncivilized tribes” of the world and have them pretend to live in fake villages so that fair goers could come out and stare at them (it’s even worse than I made it sound). 
For Anthropology Days, the fair’s organizers recruited people from the human zoos for two days of events, gave them little to no instruction on how to do the various sports, didn’t give them any time to practice and then acted smug and superior when the various competitors did poorly (because: colonialism. yay?). 
The less cringeworthy events also had some flexible interpretations of rules (cheating) on the part of the competitors.  One boxer entered the competition using the name of another boxer (a local favorite) hoping to curry favor with the judges. 
And Then There Was That Marathon
The St. Louis Olympics marathon has gone down as one of the most bizarre races in history. Due to poor planning the race was held on a brutally hot day.  The race planners had people in car and on horseback drive ahead of the runners to clear a path. As a result the racers choked on road dust the whole way. 

I kid you not.

There was at least one racer that almost didn’t make it to the start of the race in time, Cuban runner and postman Felix (Andarín)Carvajal.  Carvajal was legitimately a race competitor, but lost all his money in New Orleans en route to the race (as you do). He had to hitchhike to St. Louis and arrived with nothing but the clothes on his back. The race was delayed while someone cut away the legs of his wool pants to make running shorts.
During the marathon, Carvajal stopped to talk to spectators and to eat some green apples from an orchard. The apples gave him stomach cramps, so he lay down to nap (like the hare from that one story).  After his nap he got up and finished, taking fourth place. 
The person who crossed the finish line first was Frederick Lorz (which looks like Lolz, appropriately enough). Lorz dropped out of the race after nine miles due to exhaustion.  His manager gave him a lift in a car, but the car broke down after 11 miles. Lorz decided to run the rest of the way to the stadium. When he ran across the finish line, everyone there assumed he was the winner.  Lorz said: uh . . . Sure.  Why don’t we go with that? 
After the medal ceremony, someone in the know said: hey wait a minute, didn’t you get a ride in a car?
To which ole’ Fred said: uh . . . Lulz?
Despite Lorz claiming that the whole thing was an elaborate joke, the Amateur Athletic Union wasn’t laughing, and slapped Lorz with a lifetime ban.  They lifted it a year later when Lorz said he was really, really, really sorry. Lorz went on to win the Boston Marathon in 1905.  But all anyone remembers is that he maybe cheated at the Olympics. 

Don’t do drugs, kids.

The actual winner of the race was a British-born Cambridge brass worker named Thomas Hicks.  Hicks won the race (carried across the finish line by his trainers) while being so doped up on strychnine that it nearly killed him (illegal today, but back then strychnine was a common drug used to revive flagging athletes).
Two other runners, South African students Len Taunyane (competing as Len Tau) and Jan Mashiani (competing as Yamasani) had not planned to compete in the race, but were at the fair as part of the human zoo. They finished 12th and 9th respectively, though Jan/Len had been chased a mile off course by aggressive dogs. 
So next time you hear someone complain about The problems Olympic athletes face, it could always be worse.  At least they don’t have to compete in cut off shorts while being poisoned by their coaches and chased by aggressive dogs.