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FALMOUTH, MA (August 13, 2015)—Frank Shorter, the 1972 Olympic Gold Medalist who came to Falmouth in 1975 and helped propel what is now the New Balance Falmouth Road Race to national prominence, will return this weekend to mark the 40th anniversary of that first victory here, race organizers announced today.
Shorter, 67, is the inspiration behind the race’s very existence. As legend has it, Tommy Leonard was watching the 1972 Olympic marathon on TV while tending bar at the Brothers Four, and became so enthusiastic about the new American gold medalist that he immediately mused, “Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could get Frank Shorter to run in a race on Cape Cod?”
“I will always remember looking forward to Falmouth 1975 as my first real road race,” said Shorter, who won back-to-back races in 1975 and 1976. “The bonus was I could run against this guy Bill Rodgers, who had rocketed onto the world running stage by winning Boston the previous April. I managed to win and realized in the process that Bill was the real deal.”
Rodgers, a four-time winner of the Boston Marathon, finished second to Shorter in 1975 and 1976, but won Falmouth in 1974, 1977—when Shorter finished fifth—and 1978. Rodgers plans to run on Sunday, as does Shorter. Leonard will once again be the Grand Marshal.
“Over the years my love for the race has only grown and I realize more and more that it was the right time in running combined with a perfect venue and the right kind of people with the right kind of personalities to nurture those early events,” said Shorter. “For me it is now an annual tradition as much as a race. What could be better than running from Woods Hole to Falmouth in August with a few thousand happy people?”
Also returning to run Falmouth will be Dick and Rick Hoyt and Joan Samuelson, the 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist and six-time winner here. The father-son wheelchair duo will compete at Falmouth for the 36th-consecutive year, their longest streak of any race. The Hoyts have competed in more than 1000 races, including 32 Boston Marathons and six Ironman triathlons.
Serving as official starter for the men’s race will be astronaut Sunita Williams, who in 2012 ran Falmouth from the International Space Station. Williams has family ties in Falmouth and her sister, Dina Pandya, is a volunteer for the race. Starting the women’s race will be Heather Abbott, a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombings. Abbott, who has resumed running and paddle-boarding after having her left leg amputated below the knee, has started the Heather Abbott Foundation to raise money for people who have had an amputation involving traumatic circumstances. Dave McGillivray, race director, will run the race after the masses to raise money for the foundation.
David Storto, president of Partners Continuing Care and Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, will be the official starter of the wheelchair race. Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital of Cape Cod is the Official Sponsor of the wheelchair division of the New Balance Falmouth Road Race.
Among those holding the break tape for the winners will be New Balance athletes Megan Krumpoch, who helped set a world indoor record in the women’s Distance Medley Relay at the 2015 New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston, and Kim Conley, a 2012 Olympian at 5000 meters.
The international elite field, which will compete for a prize purse of $102,000, is headlined by defending men’s champion Stephen Sambu of Kenya, two-time Olympian Diane Nukuri of Burundi, and Americans Meb Keflezighi, Chris Derrick, Sara Hall, Amy Cragg and defending wheelchair champions James Senbeta and Tatyana McFadden.
In addition to an $8,000 first-place prize, the top men and women in the open division will contend for a $5,000 bonus in “The Countdown.” New this year, a countdown clock will start when the female winner crosses the finish line; if the clock runs out before the male winner breaks the tape, the female champion will win an extra $5,000. If the male winner beats the clock, he takes home the bonus.
Based on the average gap between the winning times for men and women over the past 10 years of the New Balance Falmouth Road Race, the time to beat will be 4 minutes and 28 seconds.
The 43rd running of the New Balance Falmouth Road Race will be Sunday, August 16, 2015. For more information, please visit our website at www.falmouthroadrace.com; our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/falmouthroadrace; our Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/falmouthrr and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/falmouthroadrace.
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About Falmouth Road Race
The New Balance Falmouth Road Race was established in 1973 and has become one of the premier running events of the summer season. Each year the race draws an international field of Olympians, elite and recreational runners out to enjoy the iconic 7-mile seaside course. The non-profit Falmouth Road Race organization is committed to promoting health and fitness through community programs and philanthropic giving.
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