The Flying Finns were known worldwide for their ability to run and in the early Olympic years they were dominate in the distance events. But since the 1936 games Finland has not won even 1 gold medal. When the young Lasse Viren came to the Munich Olympics he carried the entire weight of his countrymen on his shoulders or should I say on his legs! He woudl first be racing the 10,000 Meters and the question no everyone's mind was could Viren bring back the glory to Finland that they were so proud of? Virne was by no means the favorite. While he was fast he didn't have the experience to match most runners in the field. Just the year before at the European Championships he had only finished 17th in the 10,000 Meters adn 7th in the 5,000 but still he set out to make history.
As the race went off he was greeted by a blistering pace set by Dave Bedford of Britain with a 69.9 split for the first lap. That pace continued through the first mile crossing the line in 4:15 well ahead of world record pace. It was clear it would be a fast race with 18 runners in the race that had already run faster than the current Olympic record at the time but no saw this pace happening. Even more amazing was that 11 men were still in the lead pack and no one was was backing off. As they reached the mid way point tragedy would strike in the form of a collision in the lead pack. It involved Frank Shorter of the US, Viren and Gammoudi of Tunisia who ended up doing a cartwheel into the infield. Viren fell as well and for a split second just lay there on there on the track without moving. That moment was only but a second but for the Finns its was an eternity. But of course Viren got up and sprang into action with a sense of urgency. Less than a lap after the fall Viren was back with the lead pack but unfortunately Gammoudi was not able to recover and would end up dropping out.
After about 6000 meters into the race Viren road that wave of adrenaline right to the front of the race. then Yifter took it back and so began a game of cat and mouse in the front pack with neither one of them wanted to release the lead. By 8000 the rabbit Bedford who had pushed the pace so hard in the early going had now hit the wall and dropped way off the pace. Now 4 are left in the lead pack with a little more than a mile to go. Each runner watching the other to see who would make that final move. With 600 meters left it was Viren who dropped the hammer and with a loud statement said go with me if you can! No one could Viren ran the last lap in a blazing 56.4 to win the Gold Medal. He ran a 27:38.4 breaking not only the Olympic record but the World record as well! If that wasn't enough Viren would go on to race and win the 5000 race in that faithful race with Prefontaine. And if that wasn't enough he would go on to win the 10000 5000 double once again at the Montreal games 4 years later. And yes you guessed it if that wasn't enough he also ran the Marathon at the same Olympics and took 5th. Don't see anyone doing that ever again.
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Coach Rojas has 11 combined years of coaching experience at various levels including coaching a high school D1 State finalist team and 3 years in a row of a top 10 state ranking. He is passionate of the sport of running and loves to see new runners take up the sport! He wants to share a lifetime of running experience to all