When his father passed away three years ago, Frank Shorter didn’t go to the funeral. He’d seen his father the day before. “He was dying from kidney failure,” Shorter told John Brant of Runners World. “He was in a sort of semi-conscious daze by then, but when I saw him his eyes were opened wide and staring at me. And while he couldn’t talk, I could see the pathological anger was still there.”
The Yale graduate for whom the school’s indoor track is named, Shorter has mostly held the story of his troubled childhood inside. But less than a year ago, speaking at a residential high school for children in the juvenile justice system, he let it out.
“I talked about lying in bed as a child and hearing my father’s footstep on the stairs,” he said. “I explained how I tried to anticipate my father’s moods and movements, and about the enormous daily effort it took us kids to keep out of his way. I talked about searching for an outlet for my fear and anger, and finding it in running. I admitted that I ran to escape. I described the guilt I felt for not being able to save the rest of my family.”
Shorter thinks the pain he endured made him a better runner — more able to prepare for what would unfold in a grueling marathon — but other runners now understand why he was aloof, distance.
There is a video interview of Shorter on the site. The whole thing is a must-read story.