2019 - 49th Class of the RRCA Distance Running Hall of Fame Inductees:
Nancy Ditz Mosbacher
As a member of the 1988 United States Olympic team, Nancy Ditz was the first American finisher in the women’s marathon at the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics. Born in San Jose, CA in 1954, Ditz Mosbacher graduated from Stanford having competed in diving and crew, and did not begin running competitively until age 25. However, she quickly found herself naturally talented in the sport. In 1982, she won her debut marathon, the San Francisco Marathon in 2:44:34. In between her debut and making the Olympic team, Ditz Mosbacher won numerous road races, including the U.S. National Marathon Championships (1985), the Los Angeles Marathon (1986, 1987), the San Francisco Marathon (1982), the Oakland Marathon (1983), and Bay to Breakers (1984). In 1984, she set a course record at the California International Marathon with a time of 2:31:36.
Since the 1988 Summer Olympics, Ditz Mosbacher has been a color commentator for NBC and CBS Sports. She has covered events such as the 1996 Olympic Marathon Trials, the 1988 and 1989 NCAA Track and Field Championships, and the 1994 Examiner Bay to Breakers.
A groundbreaking American distance running, Moore qualified for the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, where he became the first African American to represent the U.S. in the 5,000 meters. Born in 1938 in White Plains, NY, he first discovered his talent for the sport by running track in high school. Moore won a track scholarship to Southern Illinois University, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in recreation. His school records for the indoor 3,000 meters (7:59.98), 5,000 meters (13:51.20) and the outdoor 5,000 meters (13:51.20) stood well into the 2000s.
Returning to the east coast after college, he won the legendary New York Road Runners nine-mile cross country race in 1963 and 1964, setting a course record of 46:19.6 in the process. At the 1964 Olympics, Moore placed eighth in the 5,000 meters with a time of 14:24. His prospects for an even better showing at the 1968 Olympics looked promising, however, a badly-timed ruptured Achilles tendon derailed his chances to run for the U.S. at the games in Mexico City. Though doctors feared he would never run again, Moore persevered and returned to the sport still competing at a high level. He retired as a three time qualifier for the U.S. Olympic trials and six-time All American.
In 1971, Moore started the men’s track and field program at Glassboro State College, now Rowan University, where he would coach for 23 years. The Profs competed at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships for 20 straight years under Moore, and they captured five straight national titles from 1980-84. His teams also won five national outdoor crowns, the third most in Division III, and won the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championship 19 straight years. Moore produced over 130 All-Americans and 24 NCAA individual champions and was named the NCAA Division III National Coach of the Year five times (1980-84).
A pioneer distance runner, author, and medical physician, Ullyot's expertise and lobbying helped open doors for women in running. Notably, her efforts helped changed the minds of the IAAF and IOC, who had previously clung to an archaic view that that the sport was detrimental to a woman’s health.
A 1961 graduate of Wellesley College, Ullyot is an accomplished runner herself, having finished the Boston Marathon ten times, winning the masters title there in 1984. Additionally, she is the only woman to run in every women’s international marathon championships, held in Waldniel, West Germany (1974, 1976, 1979) and she set a PR of 2:47:39 in winning the St. George Marathon in 1988 at age 48
However, her biggest contributions to the sport came off the race course. In the early 1980s, her research on the sport’s impact on women was presented to the IOC by the organizing committee for the Los Angeles Olympics, leading to a vote to include the women’s marathon in the 1984 Games. Additionally, Ullyot’s work as a writer both through her regular columns in Runner’s World and Women’s Sports & Fitness magazines and her books, Women’s Running, and Running Free helped an unknown number of aspiring participants in the sport. Ullyot was a member of the Advisory Board for the Melpomene Institute, an organization focused research projects on behalf of female athletes, and served on the International Runners Committee, seeking parity for women distance runners in the Olympic Games and all international competition.
Browning Ross Spirit of the RRCA: Betsy Boudreaux, Bestbank Track Club, Gretna, Louisiana
Betsy is a tireless volunteer at the local, state, and national level. She’s often setting her alarm at 3:00 AM to set-up a race course or to drive across Louisiana to be at the finish line to hand out RRCA championship medals. Since 2005, she has served as Louisiana’s State Rep, enthusiastically promoting the benefits of running and fitness to people of all ages, demographics, and skill levels. In 2011 she was named the RRCA’s Outstanding State Rep of the Year. She’s helped shaped the RRCA leadership through her work on the nominating committee from 2013 to 2017. Most impressively, Betsy chooses to only focus on the positive aspects of the sport, and in the most difficult moments of staging an event, or in responding to a complaint or conflict, it’s her optimism and thoughtfulness that carries the day. Despite all that she does to promote the sport of running, and the RRCA, her willingness to sit in the background, refusing to demand attention makes her the ideal recipient for this award.
Outstanding Club President of the Year: Jim Graham, Traverse City Track Club, Traverse City, Michigan
Jim Graham has served as the Traverse City Track Club (TCTC) President since 2014. One of his major contributions to the club was to guide the board through a smooth transition from being a "working" volunteer board to becoming an oversight/governance board with a paid administrator. This type of transitional change can be a challenge for the president of any nonprofit organization, but Jim handled it gracefully with his knowledge of how nonprofits work. He has a pure "love" for the sense of community that a strong, and well-managed running club can provide. His list of accomplishments also include: helping to author the club's revised by-laws; single-handedly forming a thriving weekly fun run program attracting 50-100 weekly and year-round; creating a "Grand Prix" to help support the nearly 60 local running events in the five county service area; starting the Annual Membership Awards Recognition program; and helping to see Traverse City designated as an RRCA Runner Friendly Community. Under Jim's guidance as president, the TCTC is a thriving organization, giving back nearly $250,000 annually in the five county community to support program's that align with the club's mission. To date the club has granted $1.7 million to support and promote running and walking. Membership has grown to 103%, with current membership trend forecasting over 1,000 members.
Outstanding State Representative of the Year: Lee Greb, Texas – South
RRCA South Texas State Rep since 2009, Lee has consistently worked hard to promote and expand the RRCA Championship Program in South Texas. His determination in this endeavor focuses on getting race directors to grasp the value and benefits of the RRCA Championship designation. In 2018, Lee was instrumental in generating eleven Texas championships bids, including one chosen as the RRCA National 10K Championship and one selected RRCA Southern Region Championship. Lee is an active ambassador for the RRCA all over South Texas, setting up the RRCA tent, distributing RRCA literature, ensuring RRCA Championship banners are displayed at races, sharing insight into RRCA, and awarding RRCA Championship medals at events big and small. For the past seven years, Lee has been At-Large Board Member for Houston Area Road Runners (HARRA), the “umbrella” organization for over 40 running clubs, many of which are RRCA-member clubs. In that role, he keeps the HARRA Board updated on all-things RRCA. Last year, he again organized and supported the 13th Annual Tour de Art Run in downtown Houston, held in conjunction with RRCA’s Run@Work Day. Lee uses his training as an RRCA Certified Coach to coach walkers in the Striders Smart Training Program. He communicates with running clubs through quarterly newsletters and does everything asked of him modestly, without fanfare, in a timely, efficient manner. Lee’s active participation with HARRA and the Houston Striders has made him the “Face of RRCA” in the Houston area.
Outstanding State Representative of the Year: Doug Pitchford - Illinois
Doug's biggest attribute in his more than six years as the RRCA Illinois State Rep is his pride in representing RRCA throughout the state. He uses his veteran State Rep experience and enthusiasm to promote running and RRCA programs. He assists member clubs and events by answering questions and providing guidance on best practices. He actively recruits, selects, and attends RRCA State Championship events. In 2018, he attended six events on behalf of the RRCA to present awards and support race directors. He also solicits donations from the event hosts to support RRCA programs. His personal knowledge of club leaders, events, and race directors in his state is evident in any conversation you have with him. He hosted RRCA booths at the Chrisite Clinic Illinois Marathon the Quad Cities Marathon. He actively maintains the RRCA Illinois Facebook page. He attends club socials proudly in RRCA gear to show support such as the Chicago Area Runners Social/Chicago Marathon weekend happy hour and the Rockford Runners 50th anniversary dinner, to name a few. He is instrumental in working with communities annually to acquire the Runner Friendly Community designation. Doug's RRCA presence in Illinois, and his commitment to the RRCA, make him a most deserving recipient of the Outstanding State Rep Year Award.
Outstanding Volunteer of the Year: Alice Chin, Alpine Runners, Lake Zurich, Illinois
Alice Chin is one of those rare people who always raises a hand to volunteer or lend a hand. Demonstrating the breadth of her contributions, she has been a member of the Alpine Runners Board of Directors for several years. She is the sweeper runner for weekly club training runs, making sure no runner gets left behind. Alice serves as the sponsorship coordinator for the club, going to area businesses to get them to contribute to the race fund or to offer discounts to members. Through her efforts, the Alpine Runners have developed a great relationship within the community and raised funds for the area food pantry. Alice is also co-director of the club’s successful kids training program, which had over 200 runners in fall 2018. She has her RRCA Coaching certification and coaches the youngest group of kids. At every club function, Alice is there: highway clean-up, farmer’s market booth, running store info table, setting up the holiday party, purchasing food for post run events, and more. The Alpine Runners could not be what they are without her contributions.
Beginning Running Program: Reason to Run, Portland, Oregon
Trisha Swanson is an RRCA certified coach who voluntarily leads training sessions at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville, Oregon through the program, Reason to Run. Numerous 8-week running sessions are offered every year in all areas of the prison. These training programs provide coaching for both new and experienced runners and include informational talks, endurance running, speed sessions, strength training and stretching. Each session ends with a 5K 'race' complete with race bibs, finishing times and a certificate. While the primary focus of the Reason to Run Bunk to 5K training program is physical fitness, participants are encouraged to explore how running positively impacts mental health and how to incorporate goal setting and accountability into a running plan. During training sessions, inmates cheer for one another, pace each other on runs, and work together to accomplish boot camp exercises.
Outstanding Youth Running Program: YOUth FIT, Shreveport, Louisiana
Dr. Shelley Armstrong launched YOUth FIT in 2009, through a partnership with the Red River Road Runners (RRRR) and Shreveport Parks and Recreation (SPAR). YOUth FIT is open to 100 boys and girls, 7-17 years old, who have the desire to learn the fundamentals of endurance running, prepare for XC season, or simply get involved in a healthy lifestyle sport. Each week, the kids participate in the RRRR Summer Fun Run Series, starting with either a one-mile or 5K race. All kids finish the program with the 5K, picnic, and awards. The YOUth FIT participants frequently end up being the top area runners in high school and middle school Cross Country each fall.
Challenged Athlete: Marko Cheseto
Marko Cheseto came to Anchorage, Alaska from Kenya in 2008 on a University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) athletic scholarship. He earned the NCAA Division II All-America honors six times in track and cross country. In November 2011, stricken with grief after the death of a teammate, he disappeared into the woods surrounding the school during a particularly intense winter storm. After a massive but unsuccessful search for Marko, he stumbled into a hotel near the UAA campus. His sneakers were frozen to his feet. As a result, both feet had to be amputated. Marko remained in Anchorage, subsequently graduating with a degree in nutrition, getting married and having three children. Eighteen months after his ordeal, he was fitted with a pair of running blades and resumed running. This past summer, he moved to Florida to work and train at Prosthetic and Orthotic Associates. He returned to Alaska in August to run the 2018 Anchorage RunFest Skinny Raven Half Marathon, an RRCA State Championship race. He finished in 1:26:55, placing 10th. In November, Marko ran the New York City Marathon, his first marathon on carbon-fiber running blades. He finished in 2 hours, 52 minutes, 33 seconds — about 10 minutes off the world-best for a double-leg amputee. Marko placed 613th overall in a field of nearly 53,000. He is believed to be the second person with two prosthetic feet to break the 3-hour mark in the marathon. This same week, Marko became an American citizen. Marko currently resides in Florida where he is training for the Boston and Chicago Marathons. His goal is to run a sub-2:10 with elites in a major marathon.
Road Runner of the Year: Desiree Linden
On April 16, 2018, Desiree Linden became the first American woman in thirty-three years to win the BAA Boston Marathon. In brutally cold and rainy conditions, Linden powered through a rough start that had her contemplating dropping out of the race early. By the 25 kilometer mark, Linden had found her stride, but still trailed leader Mamitu Daska by 27 seconds. A second half surge saw her pull even with Daska at famed Heartbreak Hill, and by 40 kilometers, Linden had a three minute lead she would never come close to relinquishing. The victory was the culmination of several previous close calls for Linden in Boston.
Road Runner of the Year: Sam Chelanga
Chelanga kicked off 2018 in impressive fashion, placing sixth and as the top American at January’s Aramco Houston Half Marathon. Chelanga’s time of 1:00:37 was the fourth fastest ever for an American male in the half marathon. In March, at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships, he was again the top American finisher, placing 14th overall. Later that spring, he took first place in 1:14:52 at the U.S. 25K Championships. His strong year continued at July’s AJC Peachtree Road Race 10K in Atlanta where he finished fourth overall with a time of 28:56. At the conclusion of the race, Chelanga announced he was retiring from professional running in order to enlist in the U.S. Army with hopes of becoming an officer, capping a career that saw him break NCAA records, and become a multiple time NCAA and USATF national champion.
Road Runner of the Year, Male Master: Jean Pommier
At age 54, Jean Pommier completed a prolific running schedule, scoring near the top of many races, especially ultramarathons, in 2018. Countless events saw him beating runners decades younger than he, and he frequently finished as the top master, as well as grandmaster. Highlights from the year include: first at the Jed Smith 50K and Ruth Anderson 50 Mile in 3:26:44 and 6:20.14, respectively; second overall at the Jackpot 100 Running Festival 100 Mile in 15:34.11; and third overall in 5:06:41 at the the Ohlone Wilderness 50K which involves 7,800 feet of climbing. Finally. At the USATF 50 Mile Road Championships in Boalsburg, PA, Jean came in 4th overall in 6:39:10 to claim the Masters title. In addition, to his racing accomplishments, Jean is the Ultra Committee President for the Pacific Association of Track and Field.
Road Runner of the Year, Female Master: Jenny Hitchings
In 2018, at age 55, Jenny Hitchings turned in an impressive array of performances, setting four American age-group records in four months. In August, she ran a women’s-only 5K in 18:05, a 5:49 pace. In September, she ran the Buffalo Stampede 10 Mile in 1:01:20 (6:08 pace). In October, she ran 1:21:17 at the Urban Cow Half Marathon (6:12 pace) in which she took nearly two minutes off the old record. Finally, in November, Hitchings ran the Food Bank’s Run to Feed the Hungry 10K in Sacramento and finished in 37:27 (6:01 pace) besting by 53 seconds the record that Joan Benoit Samuelson set five years ago. The last race earned her USATF athlete of the week. In between these record-setting races, Jenny also won the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon in 2:51:28 and beat the nearest competitor by two and a half minutes. In perhaps the greatest indication of her dominant year, Jenny was master’s champion of the Pacific Association of USATF's Road Racing Grand Prix Series (long) with 468 points, 102 points ahead of the runner up.
Communications Excellence: New Orleans Track Club, New Orleans, Louisiana
Since joining the New Orleans Track Club (NOTC) Board of Directors in 2013, Fred Ruckert has used his unique professional experience to revamp the club's communications and identity. Through his volunteer efforts serving as the Communications Committee Chair for five years, the NOTC now has a strong anD all-encompassing communications strategy. Part of the strategy employed is an email that serves as a direct outlet of communication to subscribers. On The Run, distributed every Wednesday, allows readers the opportunity to find out club need-to-know facts and organizational initiatives. During Fred’s tenure, subscriptions have increased by nearly 100%, with email open and click through rates tripling. Along with a complete website overhaul, major results from the communication strategies have come from the NOTC’s presence on social media. Continuous content updates on the club’s accounts encourage engagement from both event participants and volunteers. Posts on social media support efforts from all club committees, especially revenue driving initiatives that include membership dues, race registration fees, and sponsorships. Each of the above elements have given the NOTC a voice that is distinct and recognizable in the community. While the NOTC is established as one of the longest standing running clubs in the country, these efforts have brought the club’s communications into the twenty-first century.
Excellence in Running Journalism: John Stifler, Sugarloaf Mountain Athletic Club, Florence, MA
John is a longtime member of the Sugarloaf Mountain Athletic Club, and a regular contributor both to the club’s newsletter and to New England Runner magazine. His journalistic style is clean and clear, and he provides polished, fact-based reporting on events and topics in a conversational and engaging tone. In the first sample, John’s skillset as a writer and reporter is diverse. His portfolio of work ranges from a spot story on the Amherst 10-Miler, one of his club’s oldest races, to a recap of the 50th running of the Ron Hebert Road Race, to a more introspective and thoughtful piece about well-publicized ultrarunning efforts on the Appalachian Trail.
Road Race of the Year: Toughest 10K Kemah, Kehmah, Texas
The Toughest 10K Kemah is a well-organized, safe, fun, and as tough as it gets 10K. Really – it’s tough! If crossing an elevated bridge FOUR times doesn’t get you, there’s the heat and humidity of late summer Texas to deal with, too. The race, directed by Robby Sabban, starts and finishes at the Kemah Boardwalk with a fantastic post-race spread: ice cream, popsicles, pizza, Gatorade, massages, and many more vendors with products, samples and merchandise to sample or buy. Plus there are half-price rollercoaster rides for race participants. The awards ceremony was super festive and rowdy, with robust Houston, Kemah, Galveston area running clubs are out in force cheering loudly if one of their members earned an award. The race was proudly the RRCA National Championship 10K and the championship designation was heavily marketed on all race materials.