FALMOUTH, Mass. – Falmouth, Massachusetts, is about 2,000 miles from Boulder, Colorado, but it's where Frank Shorter lives now and where he found the inspiration for the iconic BOLDERBoulder more than 40 years ago.
Boxes of memories highlighting one of the most storied careers in US running fill boxes inside Shorter’s Cape Cod home, most of them filled with the magazines and trading cards his picture adorned during the 1970s and 80s. A distance runner with world and Pan-Am championships to his name, Shorter is best known as the only American to win two Olympic medals for the marathon.
Fifty years ago, Shorter won his first Olympic medal, a gold medal, by finishing first in the men’s marathon at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany. His time of 2:12:19.8 was more than two minutes faster than the closest competition, yet the win was overshadowed by violence. Just a few days earlier, nearly a dozen Israeli athletes had been killed by a Palestinian terror group.
“I actually heard the gunshots because I was sleeping on the balcony of my Olympic Village room,” Shorter recalled. He says something changed about the Olympic games at that point.
“I'll always remember that the '72 Olympics was the point in time where the age of innocence for international sports ended, because the gunshots that were heard across the Olympic Village meant that terrorism was going to have an impact not only there but everywhere else."
Shorter continued to run. In 1976, he brought home his second Olympic medal, this time silver, from the games in Montreal. By this point in his career, Shorter's continued success was putting the spotlight on his training location – his adopted home town of Boulder, Colorado.
“Boulder, it turns out, at 5,600 feet, is pretty much is the perfect place to train at altitude,” Shorter said. “You don't get into so much oxygen depth that you can't recover.”
Boulder is also the place where Shorter met friend and banker Steve Bosley, who also had an interest in running. It was in Bosley's office one day when the two first started discussing what has become the BOLDERBoulder.
“He said, "I'm going to start a kid's track race," and I said, "Why don't we put on a road race?"” Shorter remembered about that meeting.
Shorter's inspiration for the road race was the Falmouth Road Race. He had first been invited to run the seven mile race along the coast of Cape Cod back in 1975. Not only did he win the race that year, but he saw how it brought the community together and wanted to bring that same feeling to Boulder.
In 1979, that dream became a reality. The BOLDERBoulder that year was small by today’s standards — just 2,800 people. Shorter proudly ran that first race, but he didn’t win. In fact, it was only during the third running of the race in 1981 that Shorter would be the first to cross the finish line.
In the years since, Shorter’s world-class reputation has helped attract top athletes to the race. But when it comes to the 50,000 people from Colorado and around the world who walk and run the course every year, Shorter says they return every year because of the beauty of both Boulder’s location and people.
“It truly represents a place where everyone is welcome, whether you're from Colorado or out of state,” he said. “It really has become as much an annual reunion as it has been a road race.”
Frank Shorter will be the official starter of the 2022 BOLDERBoulder. To sign-up and take part, click here.