Frank Shorter is unique among American distance runners: He alone has two Olympic medals in the marathon. A supremely talented athlete and an esteemed competitor in both track and road racing, Shorter was able to excel at the highest levels of the sport while the world was watching.
Striving for Excellence
Born in 1947, Shorter attended Yale University, where he was the NCAA 10,000-meter champion during his senior year. After graduation, he chose to both pursue a law degree at the University of Florida College of Law in Gainesville and to train with their highly regarded track program. The combination worked: Shorter won the U.S. cross-country championships four times (1970-1973), was the 10,000-meter national champion in 1970, 1971, 1974, 1975, and 1977, and won the 1971 Pan American Games 10,000 meters.
From the Track to the Roads
Shorter excelled on the roads as well. In his first season of road racing he also ran his first marathon, the 1971 AAU Championship, and placed second to his friend Kenny Moore; later that year he won the Pan American Games Marathon, and then went on to notch the first of four victories—a record number—at the prestigious Fukuoka Marathon in Japan. (He ran his career best time of 2:10:30 at Fukuoka in 1972.)
In 1972, Shorter won the Olympic Marathon in Munich by separating himself from the pack after 11 miles and running out of sight of his rivals on the course’s winding roads. He was the first American Olympic marathon gold medalist since 1908. He made history again in 1976 when he won the Montreal Olympic silver medal behind Waldemar Cierpinski of East Germany, who was later implicated in the country’s state-sponsored doping scandal. Shorter’s Olympic achievements were a huge contributor to the running boom of the 1970s and have served as an inspiration for countless distance runners since.
Life after Competition
In retirement, Shorter has remained active in the sport on many fronts. He serves as a commentator for numerous track and field and road racing events and gives motivational speeches around the country. A persuasive and constant voice against the use of performance-enhancing drugs, he helped to establish the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and served as its chairman from 2001 to 2003.
A longtime resident of Boulder, CO, Shorter co-founded the Bolder Boulder road race in 1979. This annual 10K, one of the largest in the country, takes place at the University of Colorado and supports the U.S. armed forces. A statue of Shorter stands outside the University of Colorado’s Folsom Field, where the race finishes, as a tribute to his accomplishments.
|1972||U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon||2:15:58|
|1972||Munich Olympic Games||2:12:19|
|1976||U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon||2:11:51|
|1976||Montreal Olympic Games||2:10:45|
|1976||New York City Marathon||2:13:12|
|1978||New York City Marathon||2:19:32|
|1979||New York City Marathon||2:16:15|