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Former U.S. Olympic distance runner arrested for drunk driving in Minnesota

Garry Bjorklund was charged with driving while intoxicated after found driving on the wrong side of the road

On the night of Aug. 8, in Eden Prairie, Minn., Minnesota running legend and 1976 U.S. Olympian Garry Bjorklund was charged with driving under the influence after crashing into another vehicle while allegedly driving on the wrong side of the road.

In 1976, at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., Garry Bjorklund qualified for the Montreal Olympics in the 10,000m despite losing one of his shoes about halfway through the race. Photo: Larry Kurtz

According to Bring Me The News, Bjorklund, 71, of Fort Collins, Colo., recorded a blood alcohol level percentage three times over the legal limit. It was reported that no one was injured in the crash.

The crash happened after 6 p.m. and police discovered that Bjorklund was driving westbound in the eastbound lane when he crashed into another vehicle. When police arrived on the scene, Bjorklund could not stand. An officer also reported that he had urinated on himself.

The officer smelled a “strong odour of alcohol,” and when he tried to get Bjorklund to do some sobriety tests, he rested on the grass and repeatedly said, “I am not drunk.”

Bjorklund received a misdemeanour-level ticket for fourth-degree driving while intoxicated (DWI).

A fourth-degree DWI is a misdemeanour offence in Minnesota, punishable by up to 90 days in jail or a $1,000 fine. A fourth degree is defined as the implementation of a first-time DWI charge within 10 years and committed without the presence of any aggravating factors (i.e. injury or death).

Oregon’s Steve Prefontaine and Minnesota’s Garry Bjorkland at an NCAA meet in 1971

Bjorkland was an NCAA national champion in 1971 with the University of Minnesota and also competed in the 10,000m at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, becoming the lone U.S. qualifier for the event and finishing in 13th place.

He won the inaugural Grandma’s Marathon in 1977 and again in 1980, holding a personal best time of 2:10:20. The half marathon at the Grandma’s Marathon race weekend is currently named after him.

Officials of the Grandma’s Marathon declined to comment on the situation.

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