In 1976, Finland’s Lasse Viren made Olympic history when he became the first man to win both the 5,000 and 10,000 meter races in successive Olympiads. After his victory, his coach decided to take on the record of the legendary Emil Zatopek. Earlier in the century at the Helsinki games, Zatopek had won the 5,000 the 10,000 and the marathon. There was only one problem. Viren had never run a marathon before.
The Olympics are not exactly the place to take on a new event. But on the last day of the Montreal Olympics, Viren lined up to run the 26 mile race--and stood directly behind Frank Shorter, the American who had won the marathon gold medal four years earlier in Munich. As they took off, Shorter found out that he had a shadow. Lasse Viren’s coach’s strategy was to stay with Shorter through the whole race. Viren tried, but couldn’t maintain ...
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