This is the second in the series on the 50th anniversary of the ASICS Falmouth Road Race from senior writer Jeff Benjamin on the legendary Frank Shorter and the 50th anniversary of his triumphant run through Munich.
Jeff Benjamin’s Daily 50th ASICS Falmouth Daily Diary
Day 2 – Saturday, August 20th
Photo Essay – The Legends Revolve Around Frank Shorter!
This Saturday morning drew hundreds to what has become another annual ritual through the streets of Falmouth for more than 3 decades – The Falmouth Walk.
The Falmouth Walk is an annual charity event that raises money for local Falmouth charities and is always held on the day before the Road Race. Founded in 1991 by the local legends Eddie Doyle and the Late Falmouth Road Race visionary Tommy Leonard, the walk still continues on with close to 1000 participants taking part.
Along with Doyle were some of The “Who’s Who” of running royalty both from near and afar. Race co-founder Rich Sherman participated, as did legendary running champs Bob Hodge & Geoff Smith. Legendary 1979 Falmouth Champ Craig Virgin briskly walked through the non-competitive event, but the person firing the starting cannon “beat” them all to the finish line, perhaps due to his new home-field advantage!
Olympic Gold Marathon Champion Frank Shorter, whose victory 50 years ago provided the genesis for Leonard’s dream of creating a true road race here on Cape Cod, had recently moved to Falmouth. The scene of his 1975 & 1976 race victories, Shorter’s performances led to the exponential growth of participants during the “Running Boom” here every Summer going forward.
A few hours after the walk, Road Running Legends abounded at the day’s expo. In a remarkable gathering, Road Running’s “Guardian” Toni Reavis hosted a meet and greet talk with “The Big 4” – Shorter, Virgin, Bill Rodgers & Joan Benoit Samuelson.
While from different backgrounds & training methods, the major topic of discussion was the influence of Tommy Leonard.
“Oh, he was a character!,” said Rodgers, “But Tommy really loved the Sport.”
“Tommy Leonard possessed a lot of passion,” said Virgin.
From there, it was on to the Falmouth Elite Mile, held on the grounds of the Falmouth High School, which also hosts the expo.
The current crop of Miling stars and future legends were led in the Women’s race by fan-favorite Nikki Hiltz (4:28.93), followed by Kaela Edwards (4:30.55) and Carina Viljoen (4:31.69).
The Men’s race was won by Paul Ryan in 3:55.91, followed by Jye Edwards (3:56.36) & David Ribich (3:56.68).
Afterward, it was “Back To The Future” once again! At the traditional backyard dinner gathering hosted by longtime staple Helen Kennedy, the spotlight was on Frank Shorter once again!
In a true tongue & cheek flavor, Shorter was recognized for his upcoming 50th Anniversary of his Olympic Achievement alongside a mannequin in a true Shorter style, replete with the ‘72 stache and dressed up in some 1970’s “Frank Shorter” clothing line full body suit of some sort which, according to Kennedy, was acquired from the Baltic countries!
After a great night of fun and laughs, it was time to get the race ready for the following morning!