Saturday, December 15, 2012

1976 Olympic Marathon Documentary: A Video Gem

Here is a fantastic video showing the 1976 Olympic Marathon. The last time I saw footage of this race was 36 years ago during the Montreal Olympics, so it is just a wonderful treat to see this video: 26 Times in a Row recently posted on youtube (the video cannot be embedded so you will have to go to the youtube link). This is the race where Frank Shorter won the silver medal while trying to repeat as the champion. Waldermar Cierpinski was the surprise gold medalist as he would be again four years later. American Don Kardong just missed the bronze to Karel Lismont and you can see how frustratingly close was the finish. It is great to see such high quality video of some the of the great running stars of the day: an injured Bill Rodgers making a fight of it, fifth place finisher Lasse Viren trying his first marathon days after winning repeat gold medals in the 5000 and 10000 meter races. There is Canadian favorite Jerome Drayton and 44 year old Jack Foster of New Zealand. Here are the results of the 1976 Marathon. Years later, there is much suspicion that Cierpinski was part of the East German drug program, but his Olympic victories were never taken away.
Things changed in 1998, when a German scientist, Dr. Werner Franke, managed to get into the archives of Stasi, East Germany's secret police force. By the time the GDR collapsed, Stasi's spooks had managed to destroy most of its incriminating paperwork, but not a file on State Plan 14:25, which Dr. Franke uncovered at the Stasi headquarters in Leipzig. State Plan 14:25 contained details of East Germany's drug program for its Olympic athletes. The file implicated many gold medalists, five of them winners in track and field in Montreal. Cierpinski's name was at the top of Page 105. He was No. 62.
This is an amazing video to watch: whether you last saw the race years ago or if you have never seen footage of this Olympic Marathon. This is 24 minutes of your time well spent! It is also fun to see things like bicycles on the course and wide range of course vehicles intermingling with the lead runners. I had completely forgotten that one runner even ran an extra lap! If you haven't seen the 1972 Olympic Marathon make sure you watch that race here.

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