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RRCA National Running Awards

In 1971, the RRCA developed the RRCA National Running Awards to acknowledge the service and dedication of outstanding volunteers to the running community. Each year club and event leaders around the United States are encouraged to nominate outstanding individuals for an RRCA National Running Award. The outstanding contributors to our sport are recognized at the RRCA Annual Banquet and National Running Awards Ceremony. Each year the RRCA provides a travel stipend and a free ticket for these deserving individuals to attend the banquet and awards ceremony.

The RRCA National Running Award Categories

History of all National Awards Winners
Bios of the RRCA Distance Running Hall of Fame members

Nomination & Selection Process

Anyone may nominate individuals, programs, or clubs for the various award categories. Newsletter editors and webmasters are encouraged to submit nominations on behalf of their club for newsletters, journalism, and website awards. You may nominate more than one individual for different awards or multiple individuals for an award, but these nominations must all be made by submitting a separate nomination entry form. To nominate a deserving individual for an award, review the Award Categories and Selection Criteria Information below; then complete the online nomination form during the nomination period. Nominations including supporting documents are due each year by 5:00 PM Eastern on January 15th. Only nominations made through the official online form will be accepted. For several of the awards you will be able to upload PDF samples to support your nomination. See criteria for detailed instructions.

Award Selection Criteria and Process

The following outlines general information for each award along with basic selection criterion. This information is useful when submitting information for each award nominee. Award winners are chosen by a volunteer selection panel from the nominations submitted for each award category. The RRCA awards selection panels are a great opportunity to get involved with the organization at the National level. For more information about serving on a selection panel email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

RRCA Distance Running Hall of Fame

Developed in 1970, the RRCA American Long Distance Running Hall of Fame, inducts individuals who have given, not only athletic performance, but also to the overall contribution of the sport of long distance running.  Preference is often given to competitive running performance. Inductees need not necessarily be near the end of or clearly past their prime competitive years. Inductees should have demonstrated long-term excellence (years of quality performance) as opposed to a few brief years of top performances. Exceptions may include, but are not limited to a world-record marathon or an Olympic Championship. Racing preferably should have been done at distances of 5 miles or longer. Shorter distances such as a 5K will be considered.

Browning Ross Spirit of the RRCA Award

The Browning Ross Spirit of the RRCA Award was created to honor the memory of the RRCA’s founding member, Browning Ross, who died unexpectedly in April 1998. The award honors an individual who is an unsung hero. These are the people who champion the RRCA tirelessly and enthusiastically, but prefer to stay in the background, letting others bask in the spotlight, just as Browning did. This award recognizes lifetime volunteer service over a period of many years to the running community. Nominees should have a considerable track record of volunteering for their local club or event as well as being an active promoter of the RRCA. The nominee may be living or deceased

Outstanding Club President of the Year in Honor of Scott Hamilton

This award honors an outstanding RRCA Club President. Scott D. Hamilton passed away in 2005 at the age of 77. Scott joined the Mid-Pacific Road Runners Club in 1965 and was an active runner for over 35 years. He served as RRCA President from 1966-67. The general criterion for this award includes developing and applying a high level of administrative and organizational management skill for their club. Pursuing community involvement through financial donations, scholarship programs, youth programs, volunteer support, and developing relationships that benefit the mission of the club. Under the president’s leadership a club should see membership retention and growth, increased participation in club hosted events such as training runs and races, and a well rounded social atmosphere for club members. The president should also ensure the club has a volunteer recognition program, exceptional communication through email, website or newsletters about club activities.

Road Runners of the Year

Developed in the 1975, the Road Runner of the Year Award was given to American runners with the most outstanding record of racing performances during the past year for open Male and Female runners. In 1984 RRCA added the categories, Male Masters and Female Masters. For the open category, the top three male and female candidates will be chosen by an expert selection panel.  The general criteria for the open male and female runners of the year include top performances and accomplishments during the year. The types of races run and placement in those events is also an important criteria. Participation in RRCA Championship events is encouraged.  The Male and Female Master will be chosen by the selection panel and their criteria includes top performances and accomplishments during the year for a person over 40 years of age. The types of races run and placement in those events is also an important criteria. Participation in RRCA Championship events is encouraged as well as participation in the local running community.

Road Runner of the Year Challenged Athlete

Nominees for this award must actively participant in running events with a verified disability. For this award category, the RRCA defines a physically challenged athlete as a male or female athlete racing in multiple events throughout the course of the year without the use of a limb or combination of limbs (leg, arm). Athletes may race with or without the use of prosthetics.  Athletes may also race using a push-rim wheelchair. Physical disabilities also include dwarfism, amputation/limb loss, blindness/visual impairment, spinal cord injury/wheelchair-users and cerebral palsy/brain injury/stroke.  The person with the disability may or may not be a member of an RRCA club. However, special consideration will be given if a nominee is a member of an RRCA running club. The general selection criterion for this award includes performances and accomplishments at events during the year; the types of events the person has participated in; and placement in those events.  Participation in RRCA member events is encouraged. In addition, the runner’s participation helps to promote the inclusion of other athletes with disabilities. Additional selection criteria include someone that is a dedicated volunteer for promoting runners with disabilities.  Under this person’s leadership, a club and/or event should see increased and continued participation of runners with disabilities.

Outstanding Volunteer of the Year in Honor of Rod Steele

Rod Steele was a DC Road Runner Club President in 1974 until a plane crash took his life. This award is in memorial to his contributions to the sport of running as a volunteer and supporter of the RRCA. This award is given to recognize the outstanding volunteer (excluding the president) of a local club. A general selection criterion includes someone that is a dedicated volunteer to the local running club and someone that stands out amongst the other volunteers in the club.

RRCA Communication Awards in Honor of Jerry Little

Jerry W. Little, Jr. was president of the Electric City Printing Company from 1969-1986. A graduate of Auburn University, Jerry was a Navy veteran, and he had been an athlete all his life. He took up running in the 1970’s, becoming a devotee and advocate of the sport until his death from lung cancer in 1986.

Outstanding Club Newsletter

This award recognizes the printed Outstanding Club Newsletter of the Year. General criterion includes the RRCA must appear on the newsletter to be considered. The content of newsletter should appeal to a broad audience in a running club from beginners to competitive runners. A calendar of local events, club meetings and social gatherings, along with member achievements such as marathon finishers, and other special interest member stories are encouraged. RRCA information such as general safety tips, runners’ etiquette, information about renewing membership in the club or links to this information should be included. Other content such as original articles, training and nutrition tips, and race reviews are also important elements. If submitting for the Outstanding Newsletter (print) award, 5 copies of 2 separate issues of the print newsletter must be mailed to the RRCA National Office.

Outstanding Club E-Newsletter

Started in 2006, this award recognizes the use of technology in communicating with members. It is open to any size club. The e-newsletter can be emailed to members or clearly posted on a website and should be in PDF or HTML format. The e-newsletter should look like a newsletter and not simply be a page on a club website. When printed, it should look like a newsletter suitable for mailing. For an example, review the RRCA e-magazine, Club Running. General criterion is the same for the e-newsletter as for the print newsletter outlined above. E-newsletter requires 2 issues, which should be upload as a single PDF document with the nomination.

Excellence in Running Journalism

For 2014, this award merges the Outstanding Club Writer with the Journalistic Excellence award to become one award that focuses on the quality of article writing about running related topics by the author. This award recognizes a top writer that produces editorial content for a club newsletter or other running related publications. The candidate may be a volunteer that writes for the club’s newsletter or a freelance writer that is paid per article.  The articles should be about running and should be memorable, creative and inspiring. Articles should promote the virtues of and support of grassroots (community-based) running through their writing and Is published in a local, regional or national publication. The Excellence in Running Journalism award requires 3 article samples, which should be uploaded as a single PDF document with the nomination.

Website Award

This award honors member clubs and events that have brought technology into their organizations in an organized and efficient manner. The website will be judged by the first impression, layout and graphic design, ease of navigation, use of technology, content, up-to-date information, uniqueness, personality and contribution to the RRCA. The website must also have the current RRCA logo with a link to on the homepage. Other criterion includes sharing RRCA information by syndicating the RRCA News, embedding Club Running, and linking to RRCA Safety Tips, and more.  The Board of Directors for the running club along with their contacts must be clearly listed somewhere on the website.  Additional points can be earned for online membership renewals, event calendars, and integration of social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.  Events should include all information outlined in the RRCA’s Buyer Beware Tips for the type of information that should be posted on an event website.

RRCA Outstanding State Representative of the Year in Honor of Al Becken

This award was developed in 1984 to recognize the outstanding and superior service of our State Representatives.  Al Becken was the first State Rep to receive the award and would continue to devote years of service to the RRCA.  Mr. Becken presented the RRCA with their largest individual contribution to the organization in 2005 to support the travel of State Reps to the RRCA Convention for training and networking.  Mr. Becken continues to support the State Reps program and encourages all members to do so as well.  He continues to log many miles each year and champions the RRCA mission.  This award is an opportunity to honor your State Representative who fulfills their role with ambitious enthusiasm helping to promote running and the RRCA while assisting the local clubs with knowledge, communication and guidance. General selection criterion includes promotion of RRCA’s programs and services at the local level, support to the local running club, coordination of club information, regular communication with local clubs and events, and general promotion of the running community within their home state.

Outstanding Youth Program Director of the Year in Honor of Kurt Steiner

Kurt Steiner was born in Austria in 1921, and he came to the US in 1945. He, along with Joe Kleinerman, of the New York Road Runners Club pioneered age group scoring and awards. His passion for running was surpassed by his passion for children. Steiner helped to organize many running events for children and established the first RRCA Cross Country Championship in NYC, which hosted between 3,000 and 4,000 kids. This award recognizes a local club member who is dedicated to either promoting children’s running and/or coordinating an outstanding children’s running program. The program director should be a volunteer and not a paid staff member of an organization. The general criterion includes someone that has done a significant job in promoting, developing and managing a children’s running program in their community. The program should engage children of various ages, races, and socio-economic status and should be open to both boys and girls. Additional consideration will be given to individuals that utilize the Kids Run the Nation materials as part of their program.

RRCA Outstanding Beginning Running Program Award

In 1996 the RRCA started the Women’s Running Award in honor of the contributions of Fred Lebow, Nina Kuscsik, and Kathrine Switzer for their outstanding leadership in ensuring access for women runners at any distance. In the 50th year of the RRCA, participation by women in running events at all distances is nearly equal to that of men. In recognition of this equality, the RRCA transitioned this award in 2008 to focus on programs that engage new or returning runners to the sport, regardless of their gender. Women’s only programs will continued to be considered for this award. General criterion includes programs that have multi-week training program that engages both men and women that are new or returning to the sport of running. The program should engage new participants in the sport and work to keep them involved in a local club, not just get them to the finish line of a marathon. The program should promote running as a lifelong activity and not just a race distance goal. The program should teach new runners how to safely increase their event distance such as a 5k to 10k to Half-marathon to Marathon step training program. Special consideration will be given to programs that are voluntarily led by RRCA Certified Coaches.

RRCA Road Race of the Year

In 2006, the RRCA launched the Road Race of the Year to acknowledge events that are organized as nonprofit races that provide safe, well-designed, and enjoyable events that promote grassroots running and the mission of the RRCA. General selection criterion: the event must be organized as a nonrprofit event or hosted by a nonprofit running club that is a member of the RRCA. While the race must be governed by a nonprofit Board of Directors, the Board may elect to hire a race director to implement the race plan approved by the Board. The event may be any size or distance road race or trail event. The race must have no insurance claims for the year. Special consideration will be given to events that include the RRCA logo on race materials and events that have received the RRCA Championship designation for the year. Road Race of the Year award requires one PDF document uploaded with the nomination that contains photos of finisher medal, t-shirts, website, and how the event incorporated the RRCA name and/or logo into event promotion.

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