Shields remembers first Crater Lake races
Herald and News
Klamath Falls, Oregon
August 16, 2004
By STEVE MATTHIES
CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK – What started out as a family outing has become one of this country’s toughest marathons, and Frank Shields remembers the first race well.
He won it.
“I was the pastor at the Methodist church in Chiloquin at the time (1976) and, with my family, came to look at the lake in March, there was still a lot of snow on the ground and saw this guy running without a shirt on,” Shields said Saturday after he served as starter for this year’s 29th annual Rim Runs and Marathon.
The guy running was park ranger Dan Shawley.
“I told him he must be one serious runner,” Shields said. “I had just run the Boston Marathon and told him: ‘Wouldn’t this be a great place to hold a marathon.'”
Shields then talked to members of the Linkville Lopers.
“Before you knew it, we had a marathon,” Shields said. “Frank Betts, who was the (park) superintendent said that if we got the race going, he would try to run it.”
The Lopers, mainly Bob Freirich and Alden Glidden, agreed.
Betts said the only week the group could be guaranteed the roads would be open was the second Saturday in August, and the Rim Runs and Marathon have held that date since.
If the race were earlier, the superintendent said, there would be a chance the rim road still might be closed. Any later, there would be the chance of a snow storm.
With basically word of mouth, the 1976 race drew 35 marathoners.
“I organized the race and made the first T-shirts,” Shields said, noting he had 200 shirts printed. “I was pretty amateur at doing stuff like that. You guys are doing a much better job now.
“This is a great marathon. It is a beautiful marathon.”
Shields won the first race in three hours, 28 minutes and 21 seconds, a time that would have allowed the current Oregon state senator, whose district covers the Portland area from I-205 east to Gresham, to have finished fourth in this year’s race.