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Frank Shorter - Olympic Marathon Champion - "father of the modern running boom"

Frank Shorter - Olympic Marathon Champion - "father of the modern running boom"

Episode 81: Frank Shorter - Olympic Marathon Champion - "father of the modern running boom"

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"The Greg Bennett Show" -

Show notes (please see Timestamps below for more detail)

In this episode of The Greg Bennett Show, I chat with my neighbor, Frank Shorter in Boulder, Colorado

Frank is a remarkable man, who by all accounts is the father of the modern running boom. His Olympic marathon gold in 1972, is generally regarded as the launch of this running movement. He followed this gold medal performance 4 years later at the Montreal Olympics with a silver medal behind an unknown East German who was later documented to be part of that nation’s doping system.

Throughout the 1970s he won a multitude of US National Championships over the 5k, 10k, and marathon distances. He won the ‘Fukuoka International marathon Championship’ on 4 occasions.

But he’s more than a runner and Olympic Champion, he was instrumental in helping athletes make a living from what at the time was mostly amateur. And from 2000 to 2003, he was the chairman of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, a body that he helped to establish.

This was a very special conversation for me. It truly felt like he was chatting with one of the great icons of the world of sport. Frank shares his journey into running and when he realized that he had some ability. He describes the emotions of the terrorist attacks on the 1972 Olympics and how he had to compartmentalize the trauma of what happened and focus on the job at hand. He discusses the running into the stadium at those Games with a 2-minute lead and he shares the 1976 Montreal Games, and his thoughts on drugs in sport, his relationship with USA iconic runner Steve Prefontaine and the impact of his sudden death. And so much more.

If you love sport, if you love sports history then this is a must-listen. Do yourself a favor and listen through to the end. You won't be disappointed.

See the timestamps below for more detail.


0.0 - Introduction to show and advertising

5.05 - Introduction to Frank

5.10 - How did Frank find running? Frank wanted to be a skier and the best in the world were the French and they were running during the off-season. Frank shares his stories of how he found running. His prep school Mt Hermen. Then went to Yale University as a pre-med.

14.00 - You got to love running. Hard means very hard and easy training should be very easy. We always went at the pace of the slowest runner.

16.30 - What was the moment Frank realized he was pretty good? During the final year at Yale Frank realized he had some potential. "I loved doing interval training" - You play with your anaerobic threshold, you can gauge your fitness by how quickly you can recover. Frank started running twice a week. Frank won the 6mile and was 3 miles the next day, at the NCAA championships. At the National Championships Frank finished 4th in the 10k. Prefontaine came 4th in the 5km. Kenny Moore was also on the team. Kenny Moore made the US team and because of that he missed going to Vietnam.

23.30 - Running as amateurs and the USA track and field association would take all the athlete's appearance money.

26.30 - Frank left medical school and went to Florida University to study Law. Frank was there for the Florida track club. How Frank made money? What did Frank think about tying with Bill Rogers?

31.00 - Munich Olympics, 1972 - Frank and Dave Waddle had his bride in the village - Frank was sleeping on the balcony and heard the gun fires - Steve Prefontaine translated the news on TV - They stood and watched the terrorists - the helicopter

39.00 - Compartmentalise - Would they race after the terrorists attack?

41.10 - The Munich Olympic marathon - a 2 minute lead at the finish - Derek Clayton & Ronn Hill were the favorites - Frank was a front runner - he would run his 800's as 30, 32,32, 30 - Frank raced with surges - Frank ran the American record in the Olympic 10km 27.51 - Frank studied the course - Frank decided he would surge at 9 miles - Frank ran a 4.33 for that next mile and got out of site - At 20 miles Frank had a 90 second - Once Frank was outside the stadium he was - A kid ran into the stadium and was 48 seconds in front - the crowd were whistling - the Americans were incensed - I didn't run for the raw

54.00 - All 3 Americans who have won the marathon at the Olympics did not enter the stadium first -

55.00 - Drugs in Sport - The unknown east German ran away and was 48 seconds in front the same as the german kid who entered the stadium in front of Frank four years earlier - The drug program in east Germany was run by the government - The February 1976 letter that shows the drugs - What would mean to you get the Gold medal now? Frank didn't say anything for 22 years ago - 1996 Tour De France - The Festina scandal - 1998, Frank wrote to Clinton and Macafery and put together a memorandum - Put drug testing to an outside agency and take it away from the IOC - Get the IOC out of the Olympics - Franks involvement with USADA - John McCain got involved

1.12.50 - Steve Prefontaine - Greg shares his story of learning about - Frank Shorter shares his thoughts on "Pre" - Frank struggled with survivor guilt

1.18.40 - Moving from Amateur to Professional - Nolen Castle - who was the villain in the Without limits film - They passed the trust for amateur individuals in 1981

1.23.30 - The evolution of running - Decastella and Steve Jones in the 80's - 1976 through to 2005 - the blood passports - the new shoe performances

1.27.00 - Working on strength rather than running over 70

1.29.00 - Predictions - Euilud Kipcoge - The bouncy shoes are performance enhancers

1.30.10 - Franks shares his thoughts, Alberto Salazar

1.32.00 - How do you optimize your own life? Realize your limits, what you can do and can't do - set goals that are reasonable and attainable - Rest from what you are about - Look for mentors - Coming from childhood abuse Frank early on looked for mentoring relationships -

1.35.00 - Zoom call or beer with? President Jimmy Carter - Why, did you boycott the Olympics??

1.39.00 - Young runners - You get 5 years, when do you want to use them?

1.40.45 - What's Next? hanging with the younger athletes

Conclude - 1.41.00


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