Well now that the race is over its time to start cleaning up. I grew the stache in part because Maggie likes it. She even wanted me to have one for the wedding. No way I was doing that! And also partly because it is “a running thing”. There is a long history of runners and mustaches, and most American distance records were set with runners sporting the look. It’s a bit uncomfortable at first, but I did get used to it for the most part. Once in a while a hair would twist up to touch my nose and it was irritating but they usually laid flat.
Here is a little story behind the runners mustach movement. I’ve been flowing flotrack since 2005 and they have been promoting the ‘stache by trying to get everyone to grow one for the national championship meet. They call it stachies at nashies.
Mustaches and Running – A Look Back
Phil Sneller on November 14, 2011, 7:28am
It’s like sporting an afro in basketball, a flat cap in golf, high socks in baseball, or a mullet at NASCAR(or, if Ciaran O’ Lionaird has his way, a mullet in running). I’m talking about- the mustache, and running. It’s a classic look. So, with “ÂStachies At Nashies” rapidly approaching, I thought it was appropriate we take a moment to look back at the history and tradition of it.
In my youth my dad was both a runner, and mustache wearer, so I’ve always had a special appreciation for the combination. And while mustaches were in general just much more prevalent in the 70’s, for one reason or another, a large number of runners sported one. Probably because they look awesome. Browse through any running photos from the era and you will see, mustaches were everywhere. Of course the legendary Steve Prefontaine possessed the most notorious “soup strainer”Â, but who really started the trend?
If you search a timeline of pictures of Pre, you will see he debuted the beginnings of his popular pushbroom in early ’72 for a Time magazine photo shoot while it was just a whispy little thing. It had grown in fuller by June of ’72 when he set a new AR in the 3000m. Then, at the Olympic trials in July, he and his mustache won and set a new AR of 13:22 in the 5000m. Coincidence?? Now, this is really where the follicle fad began to catch fire, but there was another man with some famous fur who came before him and properly propelled the pairing – Frank Shorter.
Shorter, mustache-less in ’70, touted a neatly trimmed tickler in early ’71 when he began to dominate at multiple distances. Frank and Pre became buds around that time and we can only assume the case of envy that ensued, but I think clearly credit must be given to Shorter for his influence over Pre. Shorter and his mustache won both the 10000m and the marathon in the ’72 Olympic trials. Other runners surely began to take notice of the duo’s dusters and wonder what it could do for them. When something works, you copy it.
The ’72 Olympics in Munich featured a myriad of medal worthy mustaches on men from around the world(as well as few from the Mexican women) as more and more runners grew one out. Pre’s whiskers couldn’t will a win over the beard and stache combo of Lasse Viren, but Shorter’s beat out a slew of worthy competitors in the marathon. And by winning the Olympic marathon, Shorter launched what would become “the running boom”Â, as well as, “Âthe mustache boom.”
After the Olympics everyone started running, and pretty much everyone had a mustache. Pre would let his grow wild into a big, bushy beast before his untimely demise in ’75. But his loss didn’t damper the dashing look until the mid 80’s. Dick Beardsley had kept it going in ’81 where he and Inge Simonsen crossed the finish of the London Marathon holding hands, dual champs of both the marathon and the mustache. Greg Meyer’s mustache and beard boosted him to a win in Boston in ’83, the last American to do so (hint to Ryan Hall).
The fad would slowly start to fizzle after this time though, when runners began to clean themselves up and become “Ânerdier” looking, and “Âless cool”. Luckily there are those still that hold the tradition close and arm themselves with one, unashamed. The three biggest modern stars of the sport: Haile Gebrselassie, Kenenisa Bekele, and Sammy Wanjiru have all had, or have mustaches. American Brian Sell was a consistent carrier of lip hair for big races as acknowledgement of those that came before him. Middle distance guys like Will Leer and Nick Symonds have even paid their respects. A high school Parker Stinson couldn’t grow one, so he affixed a fake one to his face at the Congress Ave Mile in ’10 (maybe he can grow his own now that he’s in college). And luckily for us all, Flotrack has now taken the torch and (ahem) run with it – “Stachies at Nashies”. Are you growing yours?
It’s partially removed today. The rest to follow soon.