Jack Fultz at Boston Marathon being handed water
Category: Georgetown Magazine, Spring 2021

Title:Sweating Blue and Gray: Meet the Hoya who won the Boston Marathon in 1976

Author: Richie Mullaney (C’18)
Date Published: May 27, 2021

Jack Fultz (B’76) ran his first marathon in 1971 when he was a member of the U.S. Coast Guard stationed in Alexandria, Virginia. Upon completing his four years of service, he accepted a scholarship offer to run for Georgetown. Fultz set the school record for the six-mile run and was team captain when the Hoya cross-country team finished seventh at the NCAA Championships.

Approaching graduation in 1976, Fultz set his sights on competing with the U.S. Olympic Marathon team in Montreal that summer. The Boston Marathon in April was his last chance to qualify for the Olympic Trials in June.

With a temperature of 96 degrees, the 1976 Boston Marathon, still the hottest on record, became known as the “Run for the Hoses” because spectators cooled participants with garden hoses. With qualifying for the Olympic Trials in mind, Fultz was focused more on posting a fast time than beating his opponents. “Consequently, I viewed the other runners as allies rather than opponents,” explains Fultz. “I think that mindset was a significant reason for my victory because it freed me from competition anxiety.”

Near the 18th mile, he took the lead and never looked back. The constant garden-hose showers disintegrated his bib number so the cheering spectators could only identify him by the “Georgetown” on his race singlet. He handily beat the field of 1,898 runners with a time of 2:20:19.

His winning time qualified him for the Olympic Trials Marathon, but with just six weeks to recover from Boston, he didn’t make the Olympic Team. However, he continued to compete for decades and taught sports psychology at Tufts University for almost 30 years. “I enjoyed helping my students learn the distinction between success and victory,” adds Fultz. “I’m currently working on a memoir, emphasizing the development of a winning attitude.”

A true Hoya for others, he was part of a group that started the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge in 1990. The DFMC has raised more than $104 million for innovative research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

In 1996, Fultz was inducted into the Georgetown Athletics Hall of Fame. That year, he and the other inductees accepted an invitation to run with then-President Bill Clinton (SFS’68, H’80).

Fultz believes that he would not be where he is today without his time on the Hilltop. He credits much of his success, in running and in life, to support from his teammates, guidance from coaches Frank Rienzo and Joe Lang, and mentorship from Hoya alums and lifelong friends Garth McKay (C’71) and Eamonn O’Reilly (C’66, G’70), both stalwart runners themselves.

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