U.S. Olympic gold medalist Frank Shorter is Bucks-bound to cheer on marathoners

Frank Shorter celebrates a win in the marathon at the 1971 Pan American Games.
      Strictly from a Bucks County runner’s perspective, can you think of a cooler way to spend Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 10-11 than celebrating the 50th anniversary of Frank Shorter’s amazing 1972 Olympic marathon win with the legendary runner himself?
      Probably not.
      Which is why we are strongly suggesting you head on over to Washington Crossing Historic Park that weekend to take part in the festivities surrounding the annual “Chasing the Unicorn’’ Marathon.
      Through the organizing efforts of RunBUCKS and its director, Pat McCloskey, Shorter will be on hand to interact with runners and well-wishers.
      No doubt a lot of memories will be shared. Any student of the sport can tell you how uplifting it was to see Shorter triumph over the Munich, Germany course in 1972.
      Although the post-race victory party was tempered by the tragedy involving the murder of 11 Israeli athletes by Arab/Black September terrorists, this was considered a breakthrough race for U.S. distance runners and the unofficial start of the “great American running boom.’’
      Many believe Shorter actually repeated that feat four years later at Montreal. Although Shorter finished second to Waldemar Cierpinski, it is now widely accepted that the East German runner was participating in a pervasive performance-enhancing drug program.
      For many years, Shorter was involved in attempts to have the results of the race changed, to no avail.
      Anyway, Shorter remains the only American runner to garner two Olympic marathon medals and, along with Bill Rodgers and others, deserves much of the credit for getting this country started down the road to distance running’s current popularity and the overall better health outlook.
      “He (Shorter) has done everything,’’ McCloskey said in a telephone conversation. “In addition to his great athletic career, he’s had the clothing line, he’s been a broadcaster – one of the best – and he’s been involved in WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency). He’s a man of the sport. None come any higher than that. It doesn’t get any bigger than him.’’
      For more information, visit www.chasingtheunicornmarathon.com.
      >Relay across America
      You don’t have to run all the way across the United States to help our nation’s first responders and military veterans but a few miles as a support runner will certainly help the cause in completing a 3,346-mile effort.
      The third annual Great American Relay will start in Santa Monica, California on Sept. 10 and finish at New York’s World Trade Center on Oct. 16. In all, there are 668 stages traversing 17 states plus Washington, D.C. Most segments (490 to be exact) will start and end at local firehouses.
      Longtime Bucks County Roadrunners Club member and accomplished long distance runner Janet Lewis is heading up the local effort in this area.
      “Each stage has one lead runner who carries the baton along with up to 10 support runners,’’ Lewis explained.  “Most start at a firehouse to show our support for our local firefighters. Runners can pick one or more stages to run. The GAR makes stops at Shanksville (Pa.), the Pentagon Memorial, the Oklahoma City Memorial any many other historic locations.’’
      Charity partners include the Green Beret Foundation, The Concerns of Police Survivors, and the Firefighter Five Foundation.
      Lewis will begin her two stages at the Pioneer Fire Company on Oct. 15 and finish that segment at Abington Fire Company. The second stage goes from Abington Fire Company to the Upper Moreland Firehouse.
      “Over the last two years, it has become a meaningful tradition that we reach out to the firehouses to not only let them know we will be there, but to thank them in advance for what they do each day,’’ Lewis said. “Many firehouses also provide escorts for our runners.’’
      If you’re interested in taking part as a support runner, visit https://greatamericanrelay.com/collections.
      “We’re looking for support runners,’’ Lewis said. “And even people to come out and cheer us along our routes.  This year, all lead runners are also receiving an American flag to carry along our runs.’’
      >BCD registration information
      Packet pickup and last-minute registration for the 11th annual Bucks County Duathlon (scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 4) will begin Tuesday, Aug. 30 at Newtown Bicycle Shop on North State Street in Newtown and be open throughout the week.
      If you stop by to pick up your number and T-shirt, it might save you a little time as opposed to waiting until race morning.
      The store is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
      To register online, visit www.buckscountyduathlon.org. Make sure you have an active USA Triathlon (USAT) membership card.
      For more information and questions about the race, call 215-498-6728.
      Hope to see you there!
      Race calendar
      Saturday, Aug. 20
      Ivyland 5K, 8:30 a.m., Ivyland. Contact www.ivyland.org
      Sunday, Sept. 4
      11th annual Bucks County Duathlon, 7 a.m., Washington Crossing Historic Park. Contact www.buckscountyduathlon.org
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About Wayne Fish 1782 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.