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When Olavi Suomalainen won the Boston Marathon in 1972, it was a complete surprise.
Lining up in Hopkington, MA, with a pair of red leather Karhu racing flats on his feet, Olavi pinned bib number 7 to his mesh singlet. A mere 2:15:39 later, he would cross the finish line making it the 7th time a Finn claimed victory in Boston.
The “Celebration of Seven” singlet honors Olavi Suomalainen’s 1972 performance on Marathon Monday.
Olavi had never run, let alone won a marathon. Boston would be his first attempt at the distance.
Despite academic studies that limited the ability to train during Olavi’s early university career, the most rigorous courses were behind him. A new coach and with the marathon in mind, Olavi began training with weeks over 250 kilometers (155 miles). Since it was Olavi’s first marathon, the plan for Boston was to rely on his training partner’s, Markku Salminen, experience.
Olavi remembers, “Right when I was passing the leader, the press truck slowed down. I guess they wanted to get good photos. The police motorcycle didn’t have much room to move and we were squeezed between the truck and the crowd."
An honorable accomplishment for an inexperienced marathoner.
“There is only one possible exemption to the coursework deadline… you have to win the Boston Marathon.”
Wear proudly, run with “sisu.”