Olympic Legends of Minnesota: Garry Bjorklund

Garry Bjorklund / Proctor High School (Proctor, Minn.)
1969 Graduate
3rd MN All-Time, 1600m 4:03.50

Professional Personal Bests:
3000m - 7:46.79 (1976)
3200m - 8:28.6 (1976)
5000m - 13:32.33 (1976)
10000m - 27:46.90 (1984)
Marathon - 2:10.20 (1980)

Garry Bjorklund was one of the greatest high school runners ever in Minnesota, legendary
enough to have the half marathon at Grandma's Marathon in Duluth named after him. People
have run the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon in Duluth ever since 1991.

After finishing third at the 1966 state meet, Bjorklund went on to win the next three state
titles in the mile. In all three of those wins he set a new meet record, culminating in a
legendary performance in his last high school race. In 1969, Bjorklund set the state record in the mile at the state meet. He ran a 4:05.1 mile that day, good enough for a record that would
last 39 years. In another performance that day, we had a new state meet record in the 220-yard
dash by future Olympian Mark Lutz.

After graduating high school, Bjorklund went on to a distinguished career at the University of
Minnesota. He was a five-time All-American: cross country (1969-71), indoor track
(1970) and outdoor Track (1970-71). Among his many athletic achievements, Bjorklund was the
1971 NCAA champion in the six-mile run; a three-time Big Ten cross country champion; the Big
Ten indoor track champion in the two-mile run in 1971 and the three-mile run in 1972; and the
Big Ten outdoor champion in the mile in 1970, as well as the three-mile in 1971. He was
inducted into the "M" Club Hall of Fame in 1992.

After being a favorite to qualify for the 1972 Olympics, Bjorklund was unable to
compete at the trials due to a foot injury. This made him set his sight on getting ready for the
1976 Olympics. At the 1976 Olympic Trials, Bjorklund was running the 10k when about halfway
through the race a competitor accidentally stepped on his foot and knocked one of his shoes off.

Despite this setback he was able to pass Bill Rodgers in the last 200m and guarantee his spot in
Montreal. At the Montreal games he was the lone U.S. runner to qualify for the 10k finals,
where he finished in 13th.

Some other career accomplishments include representing the U.S. at the 1971 and 1975 Pan
American Games, a fifth-place finish in the 1977 New York Marathon, a fifth-place finish at the 1979
Boston Marathon, two Grandma's Marathon wins, and being a member of both the Road
Runners Club of America Hall of Fame and the Colorado Running Hall of Fame.