The 1972 Munich Marathon
Norbert Sudhaus was allegedly the first
American Franker Shorter was the eventual winner
On September 10, 1972, German student Norbert Sudhaus wore a track uniform and joined the Olympic Marathon Race in Munich for the last quarter-mile as a gag. He entered the stadium and ran part way around the track. Thinking he was the winner, the crowd began cheering him. Officials then realized the hoax and ushered the jokester off the course. That didn’t help poor Frank Shorter, the American who eventually won the marathon but who entered the stadium to the sound of boos and catcalls (directed at Sudhaus) and the sight of a commotion far ahead of him. When asked what he thought of the guy who came in ahead of him, Shorter said, “What guy?”
Funnily enough, this was the third time in Olympic history that an American had won the marathon—and in none of those three instances did the winner enter the stadium first. In 1904, the winner Fred Lorz was disqualified when it was discovered that he covered most of the course by car, using low visibilities as a cover, and an American won the race. Four years later, the gold medal was defaulted to American Johnny Hayes after the first person to cross the line was disqualified for receiving a misplaced assistance from the officials. Only in 1984, Joan Benoit Samuelson would become the first American to cross the marathon line first and win.