When Frank Shorter won the Olympic marathon in 1972 in Munich, Germany, he became the first American to do so since 1908. He almost repeated that triumph in Montreal in 1976, but was outdueled by little-known Waldemar Cierpinski, whose victory has been questioned because of revelations about East Germany’s state-sponsored doping program. Shorter’s performances in these high-profile races are often credited with inspiring the American running boom of the 1970s. He has been an influential person in the running world ever since. In “My Marathon,” Shorter shares a lifetime of memories about his sport in a memoir that also reveals the dark side of his early family life.
Here’s an excerpt from My Marathon:
“I was the defending Olympic Marathon champion. My photo had appeared on national magazine covers, and in 1972 I had won the prestigious Sullivan Award, which goes to the year’s outstanding American amateur athlete. My previously arcane discipline, a sport, had sprouted into a trend, a movement, a sport, and a pastime, and I had emerged as one of the movement’s role models. Across the nation, thousands of ordinary citizens trained virtually as hard as I did. Both from a spectator and participant perspective, the marathon was no longer a virgin, unexplored continent. Similar to the Munich Marathon, where I ran with a figurative bull’s-eye on my back, I now ran as a target that the public and my competitors could key on.”