Alberto Salazer was born in Cuba, moved to Massachusetts and attended the University of Oregon. It is no wonder, then, that he logged so many miles as one of the finest distance runners in American history.

Alberto Salazar

Born in Havana on August 7, 1958, he moved to Wayland, Massachusetts as a child and won the state high school cross country title in 1975. It was there that he trained with the Greater Boston Track Club and some of America’s top runners, including Bill Rogers, Greg Meyer and Randy Thomas and earned the nickname, “The Rookie”.

Alberto Salazar. Photo by Steve Dykes.

He departed Boston for Eugene, Oregon to run for the University of Oregon and was part of the Duck’s 1977 NCAA championship cross country team. He won the NCAA individual cross country title in 1978 and, over the course of the next few years, achieved his greatest success as a distance runner.

Salazar won three straight New York City Marathons from 1980-82 and beat Dick Beardsley in the famed “Duel in the Sun” in winning his only Boston Marathon in 1982. He won back to back titles 10,000 meter titles in the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in 1981 and 1982.

His silver medal in the 1982 IAFF World Cross Country Championships in 1982 is the last time an American male reached the podium in world cross country.


Mr. Salazar competed in cross country, 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters and marathon distances during the course of his career. He qualified for the 1980 Summer Olympic team in the 10,000 meters but did not get to compete due to the U.S boycott. He qualified for the 1984 Summer Games in the marathon but finished a disappointing 15th.


Alberto Salazar is currently coaching for the Nike Oregon Project in Portland, where he won the 2013 IAFF Coaching Achievement Award.

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