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Athletics at the 1976 Montréal Summer Games:

Men's Marathon

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Host City: Montréal, Canada
Venue(s): Olympic Stadium, Olympic Park, Montréal, Québec
Date Started: July 31, 1976
Date Finished: July 31, 1976
Format: 42,195 metres (26 miles, 385 yards) out-and-back.

Gold: GDR Waldemar Cierpinski
Silver: USA Frank Shorter
Bronze: BEL Karel Lismont

Summary

By 1976, defending champion Frank Shorter was comfortably established as the top marathon runner in the world. For four consecutive years (1971-74), he had won what was considered the top race in the world, Japan’s Fukuoka Marathon. His biggest competition in Montréal was expected to come from another American, Bill Rodgers, who had surprised in 1975 by winning the Boston Marathon in 2-09:55. Canada’s Jerome Drayton had won the 1975 Fukuoka race over Australian Dave Chettle and Rodgers. Two Japanese runners, Akio Usami and Shigeru So, were also highly considered.

But the big story in Montréal was a runner who had never before run a marathon. A last-minute entry was Finland’s Lasse Virén who in both 1972 and 1976 had won the 5,000 and 10,000 on the track. He entered the marathon to attempt to duplicate Emil Zátopek’s distance triple from 1952.

The day of the race was warm and overcast, but a drizzle at the start turned into a steady rain throughout the race. This was not good news for Shorter, who did not like to run in the rain. Bill Rodgers pushed the early pace but he was running with an injured hamstring and would eventually fall back. At 25 km. the lead group included Shorter, Rodgers, Virén, Drayton, and a little-known East German former steeplechase runner, Waldemar Cierpinski. Shorter then put in a surge, attempting to drop the field, and only Cierpinski responded. At 30 km. it was Cierpinski who surged and Shorter could not match him. He gradually pulled away and won by almost 50 seconds. Shorter won the silver medal and the bronze went to the defending silver medalist, Belgium’s Karel Lismont. Lasse Virén finished a respectable sixth.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal T
1 Waldemar Cierpinski 25 East Germany GDR Gold 2-09:55.0 OB
2 Frank Shorter 28 United States USA Silver 2-10:45.8
3 Karel Lismont 27 Belgium BEL Bronze 2-11:12.6
4 Don Kardong 27 United States USA 2-11:15.8
5 Lasse Virén 26 Finland FIN 2-13:10.8
6 Jerome Drayton 31 Canada CAN 2-13:30.0
7 Leonid Moseyev 23 Soviet Union URS 2-13:33.4
8 Franco Fava 23 Italy ITA 2-14:24.6
9 Aleksandr Gotsky 28 Soviet Union URS 2-15:34.0
10 Henri Schoofs 25 Belgium BEL 2-15:52.4
11 Shivnath Singh 30 India IND 2-16:22.0
12 Chang Sop-Choe 21 North Korea PRK 2-16:33.2
13 Massimo Magnani 24 Italy ITA 2-16:56.4
14 Göran Bengtsson 26 Sweden SWE 2-17:39.6
15 Kazimierz Orzeł 32 Poland POL 2-17:43.4
16 Håkan Spik 24 Finland FIN 2-17:50.6
17 Jack Foster 44 New Zealand NZL 2-17:53.4
18 Mario Cuevas 26 Mexico MEX 2-18:08.8
19 Rodolfo Gómez 25 Mexico MEX 2-18:21.2
20 Shigeru So 23 Japan JPN 2-18:26.0
21 Noriyasu Mizukami 28 Japan JPN 2-18:44.2
22 Anacleto Pinto 28 Portugal POR 2-18:53.4
23 José de Jesús 21 Puerto Rico PUR 2-19:34.8
24 Yury Velikorodnykh 34 Soviet Union URS 2-19:45.6
25 Jos Hermens 26 Netherlands NED 2-19:48.2
26 Jeff Norman 31 Great Britain GBR 2-20:04.8
27 Jukka Toivola 26 Finland FIN 2-20:26.6
28 Jørgen Jensen 32 Denmark DEN 2-20:44.6
29 Mikhail Koussis 22 Greece GRE 2-21:42.0
30 Tom Howard 27 Canada CAN 2-22:08.8
31 Keith Angus 33 Great Britain GBR 2-22:18.6
32 Akio Usami 33 Japan JPN 2-22:29.6
33 Rigoberto Mendoza 30 Cuba CUB 2-22:43.2
34 Fernand Kolbeck 31 France FRA 2-22:56.8
35 Chris Wardlaw 26 Australia AUS 2-23:56.8
36 Wayne Yetman 29 Canada CAN 2-24:17.4
37 Hüseyin Aktaş 35 Turkey TUR 2-24:30.0
38 Veli Balli 26 Turkey TUR 2-24:47.0
39 Jim McNamara 37 Ireland IRL 2-24:57.2
40 Bill Rodgers 28 United States USA 2-25:14.8
41 Hipólito López 24 Honduras HON 2-26:00.0
42 Dan McDaid 34 Ireland IRL 2-27:07.2
43 Eusebio Cardoso 25 Paraguay PAR 2-27:22.8
44 Kim Chang-Son 24 North Korea PRK 2-27:38.8
45 Barry Watson 32 Great Britain GBR 2-28:32.2
46 Agustín Fernández 38 Spain ESP 2-28:37.8
47 Jerzy Gros 31 Poland POL 2-28:45.8
48 Jairo Cubillos 21 Colombia COL 2-29:04.4
49 Luis Raudales 20 Honduras HON 2-29:25.0
50 Baikuntha Manandhar 23 Nepal NEP 2-30:07.0
51 Antonio Baños 30 Spain ESP 2-31:01.6
52 Koh Chun-Son 24 North Korea PRK 2-31:54.8
53 Víctor Serrano 26 Puerto Rico PUR 2-34:59.6
54 Günter Mielke 33 West Germany FRG 2-35:44.8
55 Neil Cusack 24 Ireland IRL 2-35:47.2
56 Tau John Tokwepota 20 Papua New Guinea PNG 2-38:04.6
57 Víctor Idava 20 Philippines PHI 2-38:23.2
58 Ray Swan 37 Bermuda BER 2-39:18.4
59 John Kokinai 25 Papua New Guinea PNG 2-41:49.0
60 Lucio Guachalla 26 Bolivia BOL 2-45:31.8
AC Dave Chettle 24 Australia AUS DNF
AC Giuseppe Cindolo 30 Italy ITA DNF
AC Thancule Dezart 29 Haiti HAI DNF
AC Ross Haywood 29 Australia AUS DNF
AC Santiago Manguan 34 Spain ESP DNF
AC Rafael Mora 24 Colombia COL DNF
AC Kevin Ryan 27 New Zealand NZL DNF