|Birth Day:||July 22, 1949|
|Birth Place:||Myrskyla, Finland|
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He began his running career on the Varsity Cross Country team for Brigham Young University.
Virén began his running career in the United States at Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah. Virén ran on the Varsity Cross-Country team for BYU for one season, before returning home to his native Finland. A police officer from Myrskylä, Virén debuted on the international scene in 1971. His performances at the 1971 European Championships in Helsinki were overshadowed by fellow Finn Juha Väätäinen, who captured gold medals in both the 5000 and 10,000 metres events with Virén settling for modest seventh and 17th placings, respectively. According to Virén himself and his coach, Rolf Haikkola, Virén could have placed better in the 1971 European Athletics Championships, if he had done the "emptying exercise" of his system earlier – according to Haikkola, he followed the Finnish Athletics Federation's leaders' bad advice – and if he hadn't been pushed almost to the point of falling at the start of the last lap in the 5000 metres final. The "emptying exercise" of top runners means that they push their bodies to a total exhaustion or lack of energy so that their bodies can again receive much energy, and so that they can repeat their top race performances. Shortly after those European Championships, he broke Väätäinen's fresh Finnish record at 5,000 metres.
At the 1972 Summer Olympics at Munich, Virén won both the 5,000 and the 10,000 metres events. At the 10,000 metres final held on 3 September, Virén broke Ron Clarke's 7-year-old world record despite falling in the twelfth lap after getting tangled with Emiel Puttemans. Mohamed Gammoudi also fell after being tripped by Virén's legs. In less than 150 metres, Virén caught up with the leading pack after losing about 20 metres. With 600 metres to go, Virén started an unprecedented lap-and-a-half kick to which only Puttemans was able to respond. The Finn won the race in 27:38:40 (which is still the current record for the Olympiastadion).
One factor in Virén's Olympic victories, especially at the 1972 Olympics 5,000 and 10,000 metres, has received little attention: his careful running of almost all the bends (curves) near the inner edge of the first lane, which spared him tens of metres compared to his chief rivals. More specifically, Steve Prefontaine gave Virén an advantage of more than forty metres over 5,000 m in 1972, while Emiel Puttemans gave about fifty metres over 10,000 m, by running many bends wide on the outer edge of the first lane or sometimes even on the second lane. This metre-saving practice is called "bend (curve) mathematics".
Virén had broken the world records for both the 2-mile and the 5,000 m outside the Olympics. Both were done in close proximity to the 1972 Olympics: his 8:14.0 for two miles was on 14 August 1972 and his 13:16.4 for a 5,000 m race on 14 September 1972.
After a complex leg surgery early in 1974, and between his Olympic double victories, he won a bronze medal in the 5,000 m at the European championships behind the British athlete Brendan Foster with a time of 13:24.57. Two days later, in Helsinki, Virén won a 5,000 m race in 13:26.0, defeating Anders Gärderud (Sweden). Three days after this Helsinki race, Virén again encountered Foster in a 2-mile (3.2-km) race at the Coca-Cola international meet in London at the Crystal Palace. Foster was again victorious, with Virén finishing fourth, only 0.06 seconds behind the second place runner. Virén recorded his fastest 10,000 m for the 1974 season with a winning time of 28:22.6 at a Finland vs. Soviet Union international meet on 21 September.
Established in 1977 by the Finnish sculptor Eino, the Lasse Virén Finnish Invitational, later the "Lasse Virén 20K", was an annual off-road running race in Sycamore Canyon, part of Point Mugu State Park near Malibu, California, held through 2012.
In 1979, Virén competed in New Zealand, running the summer international series there while in the midst of his endurance training for the Moscow Olympics of 1980.
Lasse Virén ended his career after the 1980 Summer Olympics, where he placed fifth in the 10,000 metres. Virén qualified for that final, placing fourth and having clocked a disappointing 28:45 in his heat. Only after Ireland's John Treacy collapsed during his heat, due to heat stroke, was Virén given an automatic place in the final. Otherwise, he would have qualified for the final as a fastest loser. He pushed that final's leading pack until the last 300 metres, before succumbing to the spurt of Miruts Yifter, the eventual gold medalist. Some people claimed that Viren could have run better in the 1980 Olympics if he had not done so much marathon-like training. Viren himself believes that if he had not injured his leg shortly before the Olympics, he would have run clearly better. Another account suggests that the main issues arose from the fact that Virén had neglected to bring a masseur to his months long endurance training camps in Colombia and on the Canary Islands during the preparation phase for the Moscow Olympics, resulting in stiffened leg muscles during the following speed training phase of the preparation, which made the speed training inefficient, caused the above-mentioned injuries, and left him with an insufficient top speed. Viren skipped the 5,000-metres race and chose to compete in the Olympic marathon, where he started quite well, running over 20 kilometres in the lead group. Stomach problems, however, caused him to drop out before 30 kilometres. In the autumn of 1980, he announced his retirement from active competitive running.
Since his career ended he has become a well-known figure in Finland, eventually holding a seat in the Finnish Parliament with the National Coalition Party from 1999 until 2007 and from 2010 to 2011. Virén did not seek re-election in 2011.
In 2014 Virén was inducted into the International Association of Athletics Federations' Hall of Fame.
Currently, Lasse Viren is 72 years, 0 months and 12 days old. Lasse Viren will celebrate 73rd birthday on a Friday 22nd of July 2022.
Find out about Lasse Viren birthday activities in timeline view here.