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Frank Shorter was born October 31, 1947 and is a former American long-distance runner who won the gold medal in the marathon at the 1972 Summer Olympics. His victory is credited with igniting the running boom in the United States of the 1970s.
Frank Shorter was born in Munich, Germany, where his father, physician Samuel Shorter, served in the U.S. Army. He grew up in Middletown, New York. After earning his high school diploma from the Northfield Mount Hermon School in Gill, Massachusetts in 1965, Shorter then graduated from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut with a bachelor of arts degree (B.A.) in 1969, and the University of Florida College of Law in Gainesville, Florida with a juris doctor degree (J.D.) in 1974.
In the October 2011 issue of Runner’s World, an article by John Brant detailed the traumatic household life Frank and his siblings suffered at the hands of his father and the buckled end of his belt. While his father enjoyed great prominence in his community, his behavior may have reflected, “a profound narcissistic personality disorder” according to Barbara duPlessis, Frank’s sister. With the publication of the Runner’s World article, Mr. Shorter will begin to elaborate on stopping similar cycles of violence in more detail and in public.
Shorter first achieved distinction by winning the 1969 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) 10,000-meter title during his senior year at Yale. He won his first U.S. national titles in 1970 in the 5000-meter and 10,000-meter events. He also was the U.S. national 10,000-meter champion in 1971, 1974, 1975 and 1977.
After graduating from Yale, Shorter chose to pursue a law degree at the University of Florida in Gainesville because of the excellence of the environment and the opportunity to train with Jack Bacheler as members of the Florida Track Club (FTC) founded by Jimmy Carnes, then the head coach of the Florida Gators track and field team. Bacheler was, at that time, regarded as America’s best distance runner, having qualified for the finals of the 5,000-meter race at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. The FTC’s core nucleus of Shorter, Bacheler and Jeff Galloway qualified for the 1972 Olympics and their success made Gainesville the Mecca of distance running on the East Coast in the early 1970s.
Shorter won the U.S. national cross-country championships four times (1970, 1971, 1972, 1973). He was the U.S. Olympic Trials Champion in both the 10,000-meter run and the marathon in both 1972 and 1976. He also won both the 10,000-meter and the marathon at the 1971 Pan American Games. Shorter was a four-time winner of the Fukuoka Marathon (1971, 1972, 1973, 1974). He was successful on the road racing circuit as well, winning the Peachtree Road Race in 1977 and the Falmouth Road Race in 1975 and 1976.
Shorter won his greatest recognition, however, as a marathon runner, and is the only American athlete to win two medals in the Olympic marathon event. Shorter won the gold medal in the marathon at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, after finishing fifth in the Olympic 10,000-meter final. He received the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States afterward. He won the silver medal in the marathon at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada, finishing second behind previously unheralded gold medalist Waldemar Cierpinski of East Germany.
From 2000 to 2003, Shorter was the chairman of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, a body that he helped to establish.
Shorter was featured as a prominent character, played by Jeremy Sisto, in the 1998 film Without Limits. The film follows the life of Shorter’s contemporary, training partner, Olympic teammate and some-time rival Steve Prefontaine.  Shorter was the second to last person to see Prefontaine alive before he died in a car wreck.
Shorter was inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame in 1984 and the USA National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1989.