A piece I wrote for the good folks at Tracksmith was put up on their website yesterday (11 Aug. 2022).
Frank Shorter: Memories of Munich ’72.
It’s a look back from 50 years at Frank Shorter‘s Olympic Marathon gold medal run at the 1972 Munich Games in Germany, and the Israeli team tragedy that preceded it.
I spoke with Frank at length from his new home in Falmouth, Massachusetts on Cape Cod earlier this summer in preparing the piece. He was both gracious with his time and reflective upon the experience that became modern running’s seminal event.
I look forward to catching up with him next week at the 50th running of the Falmouth Road Race, another of the foundational events of the running boom where his two wins against rival Bill Rodgers in 1975 & 1976 helped propel the sport of running into the American mainstream.
4 thoughts on “TRACKSMITH ASSIGNMENT: MUNICH ‘72”
Really well done Tony!
Thanks. You’ve seen it up close the whole way. A sport has to be fortunate and who becomes its champion. We sure caught a break with the ones we had in our day. Stay well.
Excellent analysis of Shorter’s Munich race, the best. But the upsurge in American distance running started earlier, with Mills and Schul in 1964, and then Ryun et al. Shorter’s unique contribution was to make the marathon the ultimate event, because he made it look so beautiful and so meaningful.
Yes, the upsurge in American distance running excellence certainly began before Shorter. But it was “real runners” like Schul and Mills and Lindgren and Ryun who ran, along with their teammates of lesser talents. But the average person didn’t run – hell, we still smoked cigarettes in 1970, even Bill Rodgers – until after Shorter and the Munich Games Marathon in ‘72.
For many of us, it was the first marathon we had ever seen, much less live on television with Jim McKay on the mic.
But it was the cynical dissolution of the Baby Boom generation’s Age of Aquarius ideals as we entered into our young adulthood that set the stage. It was the realization that Senator Edward Kennedy was wrong when he eulogized his brother Bobby, the dream could die. And Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young were wrong, too, in their song ‘Carry On’ when they sang, “love is coming for us all.” No, it wasn’t.
Through Franck, running revealed itself as our replacement for the thing that had once given us meaning. That’s what Frank showed us in Munich. That’s what I meant by the upsurge. Not in the athletes who ran but in the non-athletes who saw running for what it could deliver: a means, a method, a mechanism, the slayer of demons, the Teller of Truth. And once we found it, we knew it would never let us down or betray us. And we’ve never let it go. As always, thanks for reading and enlightening the conversation.