If you have never watched the running of Carlos Lopes of Portugal, winner of the 1984 Olympic Marathon title, you owe yourself a treat. Lopes was 37 years old at the time of his Olympic victory. He is one of the smoothest runners of all time, with distance and speed formed through competition at races much shorter, especially 10,000 meters.
There are fleeting glimpses of Alberto Salazar in this footage, who struggled during this hot marathon, perhaps never having recovered from his battle with Dick Beardsley in the Boston Marathon years before.
Irishman John Tracy, the rail-thin man who competed also in the Olympic 10K, is racing alongside Carlos Lopes. So is Toshiheko Seko, the Japanese marathoner who won Boston and heralded a period in which Japan had some of the world’s lead runners.
Rob de Castella, the big marathoner from Australia is cruising along in this video as well. From the front he looks like he lumbers. From the side you see that his feet paw the road efficiently.
But compared to Lopes, he’s still a plodder. Hardly in the history of running has there been a more beautiful stride than that of Carlos Lopes. His feet merely kiss the ground. His stride wastes almost no motion. If you are a marathoner or half-marathoner and want to model your stride after one of the greatest runners in distance history, follow the lead of one Carlos Lopes.