Jack Bacheler and Frank Shorter, photo by Alchetron.com
(Updated 9 April 2020 with updates from Jack Bacheler)
Jack Bacheler is one of the most important American distance runners in the modern era. A two time Olympian, he was the major domo of the Florida Track Club. He influenced Frank Shorter, Jeff Galloway, Barry Brown, as an athlete, coach. It was Bacheler, who with Shorter and Galloway, went to Vail, Colorado, ran 160 mile weeks to get ready for the 1972 Olympic Trials and owned the 10,000m and marathon.
In the 1972, Jack Bacheler, Frank Shorter stood atop American distance running. Yes, Steve Prefontaine owned the 5000m, but Bacheler, Shorter and Jeff Galloway pushed themselves to amazing performances. Jack Bacheler was a giant of a man, who competed in the 1964 Olympic Trials for steeplechase (11/13) in only his third year of running.
Bacheler was a newbie to track & field, beginning in his senior year of high school, where he took 3rd in Michigan state high school meet in the mile. That got him a scholarship to Miami (Ohio) University. He got into running and broke the uni 3 mile record of Olympic 5000m gold medalist Bob Schul.
After college, Jack moved to the University of Florida, where he pursued his masters and PH.d. in entomology. His masters thesis was titled, The Biology of a Anthocorid Flower Bug. While the six foot five entomologist was doing his bug thing, he was also running 120 miles a week, with workouts like 3 sets of 8 times a 300 meters, with hard runs between each set. Jack Bacheler was a true Beastmaster. The guy got fit and ran 14:00.4 for 5000m in the LA Trials. Then, Jack went to South Lake Tahoe, and tied with Bob Day for the 5000m title in the second trials. He was on his way to Mexico, where he ran brilliantly in the 5000m heats and then, quite confident for the final, was unable to compete due getting dysentary.
Jack Bacheler helped Coach Jimmy Carnes found the Florida Track Club, once Carnes got some local guys to fund the FTC, and Bacheler came up with their famous Orange logo.
Soon, Frank Shorter, Jeff Galloway, Barry Brown were training in Gainesville, and the FTC became a powerhouse!
Well, In the 10,000m at the Eugene 1972 Trials, Shorter, Galloway and Bacheler went 1,2,4, with Jon Anderson, son of Eugene city mayor, ran an out of his mind last lap. Jack Bacheler gently reminded us that he was actually Dqed from 4th, noting: “While Jon Anderson passed a flailing yours truly in the final lap, I was disqualified for clipping him with my arrm. So no 4th place for me.” In the marathon, Shorter and Kenny Moore tied for first with Bacheler holding on for 3rd, being paced by Galloway, who was 4th.
In Munich, Shorter won the Olympic gold, with a near Olympic record. Later Frank noted he would not dare break Abebe Bikela’s 1964 Olympic record. Kenny Moore took 4th (Karel Lismont caught him) and Jack Bacheler took 9th, the best Olympic team performance by US men until this day.
Jack added this final note: “My height of 6’6″ and 5/8 inches is especially seared into my mind, because 6’6″ was the armed forces cut off for a draft deferment. My birth date of Dec. 30th was also drawn for the draft that year!”
Jack replied to Jeff Benjamin’s questions below. We thank Jack Bacheler for all he did for American running. We also like the bug things he has spent his life working on!
Awaiting The Baton In The Relay Exchange Zone – Profiles Of Athletes, Coaches & Legends During The War Against Corona
Profile # 23
Two-Time Olympian & Running Legend Jack Bacheler
By Jeff Benjamin
How is your daily training/coaching routine doing and how challenging has it been for you in this environment?
“I haven’t run, or jogged for that matter, in 28 years due to spinal and hip arthritis. Therefore, any semblance of an exercise routine is of necessity limited. I wish it were otherwise. So for me, being regular on a recumbent bike, lots of modified pushups and crunches and growing giant vegetables constitute the lion’s share of my physical activity at 76.”
What advice can you give to runners, -especially youth, high school, collegiate- who are challenged during this time as well?
” My freshman year in college at Miami U. (Ohio) was by second year of running; therefore, I wasn’t involved in youth running. For me, I was always excited about designing my own tough workouts during summers in college in order to get a jump on my competition (including teammates). These 7 days-a-week of regular training alone provided both a degree of independence and instilled the value of never missing a workout. It certainly seems like our present sheltering in place lends itself to running, whether for pleasure and exercise or for the more serious runner, as opposed to team sports. I think that a running diary can also help with motivation. Being elderly, it’s almost inconceivable now that Frank Shorter and I once ran 3 times a day @ 8,300 ft. in Vail, CO, covering an average of 160 miles a week in May before the ’72 Trials. Even back in the day, a running log that included specific workouts, effort, injuries, races, etc. was helpful. I’d certainly recommend young, HS and college and post-college runners keep a diary.
Our present Corona virus pandemic appears to offer an opportunity for joggers and competitive runners to sustain their hopefully favorite hobby or begin to explore the limits of their potential.”