October 31, 2013
MARY WITTENBERG:Â Good morning.Â Welcome.Â On behalf of all of us in New York Road Runners, we're so pleased to see all of you here.Â I want to begin with a very special welcome to our longtime leader, Allan Steinfeld, to our Hall of Famers Nina Kuscsik and Jack Waitz here, Grete's longtime partner.
Today we are honored to celebrate some legends in our sport.Â We're so fortunate that three of them are very much part of New York Road Runners today and continue to inspire.
Frank, ever talking with all of us about how we keep our sport clean and helping us ensure our commitment is extremely strong to that.
Joani, inspiring in so many ways, including‑‑ see how fit she looks‑‑ running, and despite a bad cold, her plan is to line up on Sunday once again.Â Joani has a way of running here well beyond performances in the early days of her career.Â She was here at 9/11.Â She was here last year and a great support and back this year in a year that matters for New York and matters for Boston.
Bill, the affable man of the people.Â Bill, I want you to know, I was talking to one of our Staten Island runners yesterday.Â They were so excited you were going to be there last night and talk with many runners.
And Gary, while we still miss Ted every day, he's part of our DNA at New York Road Runners.Â In a running community, our local running community, and we talk about Ted a lot as members of our staff and as a team and try to take in some of his quiet way of influencing as an athlete, as a course measurer, as a healer, and somebody who really cared about other people.
One of the last times I saw Ted, he was carrying this big backpack, and I was up at our offices just around the corner.Â He stopped and wanted to start taping my knee on the street because he had a new way of taping that he thought would make a big difference.
So we thank all of you for your continued inspiration, and we're honored‑‑ we're the ones who are honored to induct you into our Hall of Fame.
So it's my privilege to introduce a legend in his own right, our Chairman of the Board, George Hirsch.
GEORGE HIRSCH:Â Good morning.Â Thanks, Mary.
Our first inductee is a woman who is in celebration this morning.Â When she comes up here, you'll know why; just take a look at the color of her socks.Â There they are.Â Congratulations for the first Fenway Park World Series win in 95 years.Â And she is a true New Englander in every way.Â Her sustainable gardening and her community interests.
When Joanie broke away from the three other great female marathon runners of her day; Grete.Â And there's Jack over there; good morning, Jack, Ingrid Kristiansen and Rosa Moto, on a scorching day in Los Angeles, it was a fearless, almost a crazy act.Â And later, after she had run all those empty miles out on the L.A. freeway, no spectators in the 90‑plus degree heat, she said, you know, I really like that part.Â It reminded me of my lonely, solitaire runs back in Maine.
Here she is, the first lady of Maine, the first lady of running, Joanie.
JOAN BENOIT SAMUELSON:Â Thank you, Mary and George.Â Thank you, New York Road Runners.Â Thank you all for being here.Â Congratulations to Bill and Frank and Ted, posthumously but not forgotten, and never will be forgotten.Â It's all about the pioneers in our sport who really blazed the trail for all of us to follow.
And two of those pioneers‑‑ actually, three of them‑‑ are here this morning.Â Nina, thank you for all that you've done for our sport and for women.
And Frank and Bill, I'll never be able to express my gratitude to both of you for what you've done for our sport and what you did for a young teenage girl who went out for a run under the cover of darkness after the Montreal Olympics.Â You really have made our sport what it is today, and I've been fortunate and blessed enough to be one of those beneficiaries along with millions and millions of runners from around the world who will be running here on Sunday.
What a difference a year makes.Â I remember the atmosphere here a year ago, and it's a totally different year.Â A lot has transpired in our sport this year, not all good, but we are strong, whether we're in New York, Boston, or Chicago.Â Our sport is really resilient.Â What's really the most special part of our sport are the friendships that are not only bonded but glued for life.
Jack, it's great to see you here this morning.Â As you know, the late great Grete Waitz is a dear friend, and she is deeply missed and thought of often.
I'm just humbled and honored and excited to be here as New York emerges with a colorful international face on what is supposed to be a spectacular day, and I'm hoping to get to that starting line.Â I was hoping to be here with my daughter.Â Unfortunately, she's injured, but there's good reason for me to be out there running on Sunday, and I hope to be there.
I just want to thank you all for your resiliency, your efforts, your passion for our sport, and long may we run, run strong forever.
I must confess that, when Mary said that I was going to be inducted into the New York Road Runners hall of fame, I was wondering, well, why really am I going to be inducted into this hall of fame?Â Because I've never really done anything of note here in New York.
But you are on the world stage here.Â I've had a ton of support here.Â I've gutted it out here numerous times.Â I remember my early running days here as a Liberty Athletic Club member in the legs mini marathons, and those days will never be forgotten. Â Those were the races that really made me the runner that I was back then and am today.
It's still the same sport, and the passion still burns.Â Thank you, New York Road Runners, once again.Â You've provided many wonderful opportunities for me.
GEORGE HIRSCH:Â Joanie, you've got 72 hours to get over that cold, and then you can make a mark on the New York City marathon.
Our next inductee means a lot to me personally.Â I started running back in the late 1960s, and there wasn't a whole lot of information on running.Â All the magazines and books and so on didn't exist back then.Â But there was one person who everybody who ran would look to, and it was Ted Corbitt.
You'd show up for one of our little races.Â They weren't up in Central Park then.Â They were up outside Yankee Stadium, and if it was a chilly day, you weren't sure what to do, you'd look over at Ted.Â That meant long sleeves, gloves.Â Whatever Ted did, we did.Â He was the leader‑‑ humble, modest beyond words.Â He simply couldn't talk about himself, and yet there was so much to say.
Of course, he came before Mary and before Allen and before Fred.Â He was the founding president of the New York Road Runners.
I'll never forget the day when I went out early to buy my Sunday newspaper.Â I was dressed in my running clothes knowing I was going to run later in the day.Â Here came Ted, running down along the East River, down near where I used to live, and he was doing one of his loops.Â The loop for Ted was just once around Manhattan island, 31 miles, and a good workout might be a double loop.Â But he was doing a single that day, and I just couldn't miss the opportunity.Â I fell in with Ted.Â There were no cell phones.
Finally, about halfway through, I remember we were down at the Battery.Â I was able to pull out a quarter and call my wife and say, I'm not lost.Â I just bumped into Ted Corbitt, gave me the longest run of my life.
It's beyond words what Ted has meant to the New York Road Runners, the New York City marathon, and for all of running.Â So Ted Corbitt.
GEORGE HIRSCH:Â Back in 1976, when this all began, Frank Litsky, probably one of the journalists in the room who remembers it, when Fred was trying to get this crazy scheme of an urban marathon off the ground.Â He knew that he had to do something to promote it.Â I mean, there was no such thing before.Â There was just the Boston Marathon, of course, but the idea of a big city marathon didn't exist.Â No one quite knew what we were talking about.
Fred knew at that point he had to get the world's number one marathoner to come and run in New York, and Frank Shorter agreed to do it, saying I will come because I'd love to see what it looks like to close New York down for a running race, and that's really why he came, because there was no payday back in those days, as you know.
And I remembered Frank and I running over to that very first press conference, which was right outside.Â Fred didn't have the money for bagels and coffee or microphones or anything of this stuff.Â And it was out at the finish line, but Fred was right.Â The press showed up.Â He got the stories that he wanted.Â And I think Frank did a world of good to help us get this marathon established right from year one on.
Ladies and gentlemen, Frank Shorter.
GARY CORBITT:Â Again, thank you for this honor.Â I had a unique perspective, being a part of the early days of New York Road Runners club.Â I was a child teenager watching the foundation of our sport being built.
Today I want to recognize the names of people I witnessed making history.Â New York Road Runners history starts with the New York Pioneer Club and Mr. Joseph Yancey, an African American who co‑founded the club in 1936.Â There wouldn't have been a New York Road Runners club in 1958 without the pioneer club. Â The Pioneer Club was special, an integrated club made up of all nationalities and abilities and making civil rights history in Harlem and the Bronx during an era of racial segregation.
The beauty and genius of Mr. Yancey was coaching an athletic team that was a vehicle for his primary mission of building men of character.Â I talked with Elliott Denman, the New York Pioneer Club race walker, who's here today, to further understand this.
Pamela Cooper, in her fine book The American Marathon that states the New York Pioneer Club is significant in its contribution to democraticization of sport, particularly running.Â The club helped to invent the mass marathon culture that we will witness again on Sunday.Â The huge open fields of today's marathons owe much to Joe Yancey's acceptance of all young men as potential athletes.
My father joined the New York Pioneer Club in 1947.Â He considered his teammate John Sterner, who was a race walker and long distance runner, the founder of New York Road Runners.Â John was one of my father's early mentors in course measurement approaches.Â The church through marathon was one of the first events staged by the New York Road Runners association in 1959.Â The race was New York City's showcase marathon during the 1960s, running along Sedgwick Avenue Course in Macombs Dam Park in Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.Â I believe this was the first road course in the country certified in the U.S.
A review of the 47 members of the club in 1959 shows that nearly half were Pioneer Club athletes.Â Of the nine New York road runner club presidents, four represent the Pioneer Club along with my father, Matt Cirulnick, John Conway, and Allan Steinfeld.
Women were unable to compete in distances greater than 225 yards in the 1950s, but Chris McKenzie and Ann Cirulnick were trying to change that.Â They were married to Gordon and Matt, New York Pioneer Club teammates, and these were the original running couples.
Other New York Pioneer Club members who worked tirelessly for us were Kurt Steiner, who gave me my first basketball, Harry, who recruited my father to join the club, Lou White, who gave me my first and only motorcycle ride, Jimmy Bourdon, who went on to start the United Athletic Association, and New York Pioneer coaches Ed Levy and Horace Walsh should also be noted.
At the 25th anniversary of the club in 1983, my father wrote the following:Â The most visible member of the club is Fred LeBeau, who roams far and wide, taking care of running business.Â Many people, mostly unsung heroes, have pitched in to take the New York Road Runners club to what it is today.Â I'll read what my father wrote.
Barry Geisler is the leader in track and cross country programs.Â Vince Chiappetta worked on the local and national level updating rules and procedures.Â He worked hard to allow women to participate and was instrumental in races taking place in Central Park.
Joe Kleinerman may have put in more hours promoting long distance running than anyone in the New York area running history.
Kathrine Switzer, who established Avon product running program, which further benefited women's running around the globe.
Nina Kuscsik, an officer in Road Runners Club and AAU, an inspiration and role model.
Aldo Scandurra, an early ultra‑marathon promoter, who influenced all governing aspects of our sport, local and national and international.
Lastly, Allan Steinfeld, who became an influential force in the international marathon race directors.
He also said that all these individuals made running more runner friendly.Â Made the sport more runner friendly.
This is a special honor to me because the New York Road Runners club was my father's home base for all his many contributions to our sport.Â The production and distribution of the New York Road Runners club newsletter, now called New York runner, was a family affair, was printed on a mimeograph machine on our kitchen table.Â I distributed news at the major races like the cherry tree marathon and the nine mile cross country race at Van Cortlandt park.
My mother Ruth would mail the remaining newsletters, race entry programs, publications, and other materials were all printed on our kitchen table.Â I always like to point out how important my mother Ruth was to all my father's accomplishments.Â She was always so supportive with his legendary training, his administrative paperwork that kept him typing past midnight, and his continuing education as a physical therapy commission and teacher.
I want to thank a number of you, a lot of you that are here that knew my father very well.Â In sort of researching his life and understanding what he was about and fielding questions recently, gaining even a better understanding of the spiritual side of him, he would always help people, and he merged his physical therapy knowledge to help people.Â In giving, he was receiving.Â He was constantly taking continuing education classes.Â So in helping people, he was furthering his knowledge.Â That's what he really was about.
I thank Mary and George and the New York Road Runners for this honor, and let's do what we can to remember these pioneers and preserve the history of our sport.Â Thank you.
MARY WITTENBERG:Â Gary, I just want to add to everybody.Â We're always New York Road Runners first.Â The marathon is our big day and big chance to have people who don't know what this is all about, get involved, but New York Road Runners first.
That's still the New York Road Runners today.Â It's a team working hard behind the scenes always is really what makes‑‑ allows us to do what we do in helping and inspiring people to running.
I just want to call up two people.Â Bob Glover, 35 years of running classes and somebody who's really helped us hold on to our great history and always remembered and celebrated.
And David Katz will be‑‑ what year is this?Â 30 years at our finish line, David?Â David, how many years?Â 35 years working our finish line, and was so inspired by Ted as course measurer, and now David carries on internationally with the highest standards in measurement in road running.Â Thank you so much, Gary.Â That was beautiful.
So we'll go to Frank's video.
FRANK SHORTER:Â Wow.Â You know, to be up here in this context is very interesting because I was talking to Bill as the awards were going on because it really is part of the history.
When I think back on‑‑ Joanie says, well, she can't figure out why she was invited and honored.Â You know, I only finished second, folks, in that first five‑borough race, but as George said, we all enjoy, I think, all of us up here, we enjoy being part of history, and it is always flattering and very moving when people recognize it because, just like Ted Corbitt or Fred LeBeau or Mary or George or anyone else involved with this race, we do have our own personal reasons for doing things.
As Ted Corbitt's‑‑ I would like to sort of talk a little about the other honorees.Â Getting to know Ted over the years, you really did start to understand the gentleness that he had, and all you have to do is‑‑ I hope they can get back up on the screen the picture they had ending because you look at that, and I can see it in his eyes.Â Ted had wonderful eyes.Â And that just spoke so much about who he was and how he sort of perceived the world and what he tried to do in his world of running.
Now, the first thing I ever really noticed about Ted was, since he was someone who would go on these runs‑‑ and you count his official marathons, but as George said, he basically ran a marathon a day pretty much every day of his entire life, and that's where I learned not to be jealous of people who never seemed to get injured.Â Okay, I said it's okay.Â It's okay.Â Ted is blessed.Â He can do this.Â He can do this in a way.
And the other is, as you look for role models and mentors in your sport as you're younger and you're coming through, and in a way when you have success, how you're going to deal with‑‑ not deal, but move on with the notoriety and sort of recognition that you have.Â To me, Ted was always that example I could go back to is how you behave, how you behave within your sport because you always have to remember that really, when it comes down to it, you're out there because you simply love to run.Â You simply love that feeling of moving across the ground.
You know, whether it's on the paths in Maine that Joanie runs on or around Boston with Bill or that crazy loop on the hard pavement around Manhattan island, it really doesn't matter where you are.Â So Ted just always, always impressed me that way.
Joanie, I always brag about‑‑ number one, Joani's my favorite.Â She's always been my favorite female runner and amongst my favorites.Â And I knew‑‑ I was actually on the truck, right with the TV truck, that had that shot of her pulling away in the Olympic marathon in 1984, and I remember saying into the commentary, I said, they're making a big mistake.Â I knew.Â I just knew because I'd watched Joani come along, and she just‑‑ again, to bring it back to Ted.Â Joani had the same kind of quiet consistency and sort of drive that Ted had.
So I knew she was going to do it.Â I was not surprised when she won.Â And, again, I think she for me has always been an example of ongoing just what you try to do to give back to your sport.Â I don't think it's a banal, trite way to describe it.Â You really do try to give back.
Bill‑‑ what can I say about Bill?Â You know, as I was thinking about where my place is here, having been honored by the New York Road Runners club‑‑ and I really do consider it an honor because I grew up in upstate New York.Â I'm from this area.
So when Fred LeBeau invited me back‑‑ one thing again, just to digress and talk about Fred.Â I'll never forget.Â George talked about the press conference.Â When I came in for the '76 five‑borough race, Fred picked me up at the airport in his car.Â I mean, that's the way it was.
And I wanted to be part of it, you know, and I just wanted to be here.Â As George said, I just wanted to see if it could be done‑‑ and I knew it could, but I wanted to be part of it.
And I think my place here has to do with transition and passing on the baton and the paradigm shift.Â I think the 1976 five‑borough New York City marathon was the paradigm shift in how road racing, and in particular, big city marathons were viewed.
So if you want to think about it, from 1971, which was shown on the video, until 1976 in that afternoon when I ran against Bill, I didn't lose a race.Â And in that race, when Bill pulled away, it was almost as if I had this sense that I passed it on, I passed it on to Bill.Â I'd watched him finish third in the world cross country championships.Â I'd seen how he'd run in the Boston Marathon, and despite that blip in 1976 when he was injured, when he started pulling away from me, I started thinking about other things I might want to do.
And so it really is‑‑ I do feel that, in a way, it is appropriate that I be here, but I also hope that you understand in that context‑‑ and Bill, by the way, then went on, and I don't know how long it was before Bill lost a race.Â So when you talk about the paradigm shift, from about 1971 to about 1979, an American was the best marathoner on the planet.Â And I think that that obviously, I don't think, will ever happen again.
So once again, to be part of that history, I'm so honored.
And finally, I really have to talk about George, George Hirsch.Â He, again, in his own way, is truly part of why that shift took place.Â I will never forget that first press conference that we went out at the bridge, you, me, and Bill, and we're running along the bridge.Â And I'm thinking as Bill and I are running along, this guy has the disease too.Â You know, again, that love, that love of running.
And so over the years, again‑‑ and consistency is the word that comes through.Â We've all been consistent over the years.Â We're all still here.Â And with Mary's leadership, we're all going to move on into the future.Â So, again, I'd like to thank you all very, very much.Â Thank you.
GEORGE HIRSCH:Â We've been talking about that 1976 marathon, the one that Frank calls the paradigm shift.Â Frank was staying with me for that marathon, and it was a chilly day.Â He had to, of course, wait around at the finish line till I finished.Â He was freezing.Â And when I finished, we walked out of here onto Central Park West, and I said, oh, my gosh, I don't have any money.Â Frank said, I didn't bring any either.
He and I stood out on Central Park West and started hitchhiking.Â And I remember a couple of guys in a car stopped.Â Frank had this wool cap pulled over his ears.Â They had come up from Philadelphia to see this first five‑borough marathon.Â He and I got in the backseat.Â This guy looked in the rearview mirror, and he paused for a second.Â Then he said, oh, my God, Frank Shorter.Â And I said, well, we're going down to 32nd street.Â And the guy said, you sure you don't want to go to Florida?
Frank and I got home, and not long after, the phone rang.Â And it was Bill.Â Bill had parked his car up here on the upper west side, and it got towed during the marathon, and Bill was like, oh, my gosh, I had to go down to this pound, and they charged $90 for me to get my car back.Â This guy had just won the New York City Marathon.
And I remember Bill said to me, and Fred has agreed to pay the $90 to get my car back.Â And he said‑‑ this is how amateur the sport was back then.Â Then he said, you know, I don't think Boston would have done that.
Ladies and gentlemen, Bill Rodgers.
BILL RODGERS:Â Thank you, very much.Â It is fantastic.Â Well, actually, I was sitting over there, and I was thinking, there's really only one word to describe what's going on right now in the New York City Marathon today, and it's a very overused word, but not today.Â And that's awesome.Â I think it really has to do with we are sort of rediscovering the history of distance running and marathoning, and we're seeing that everywhere.Â But here in New York, it's so powerful.
It's a great honor to be here today.Â Thank you, Mary Wittenberg, great leader for the New York Road Runners club.Â George, over all the years‑‑ you know, I remember all these moments.Â We all know each other so well.Â We were all friends.
Frank and I, we duked it out.Â One of the great‑‑ I think he's the greatest marathoner of all time.Â Maybe he's tied with the great Ethiopian named Abebe Bikila.
And Joan, what can we all say about Joan except she's one of the greatest athletes on the planet, I think.Â Not just a marathoner, so to speak.Â I think our sport is coming to the fore, and it really is thanks to all of you, the media, who is trying to send a message about this sport which is really so hard to put into words, but I do have to say I think that was Frank's‑‑ the best words I ever heard Frank say in my life.Â He touched on so many important people and issues.
And Gary Corbitt, who I met up in Utica, New York, at the distance running hall of fame, and I knew about Ted Corbitt and everything.Â It's like you're trying to find out the people in the sport, the leaders and everything, but what he did with the New York Road Runners club and along with Fred LeBeau in creating this phenomenal race.Â I am still a fan of the sport.Â I am going to be very tuned in.Â I don't want anyone to talk to me when the race is on.
And to see what the sport has become today.Â You know, you have the tough job to define it, but I know many of you out here.Â I see Jack Waitz, Grete, the great, great champion along with Joan, Catherine Ndereba, maybe the greatest of all time.Â And so many of you who have made this race what it is today.
You know, last year was a fluke.Â We know nothing can stop the New York City marathon or our sport.Â A great honor to be here.Â Thank you very much.Â Thank you.
MARY WITTENBERG:Â We'll have time for photos and talking with each of our Legends and George.
I do want to thank Richard Finn, who did a beautiful job with the videos and the stories and was a big part of starting our hall of fame a few years ago.Â And today our Hall of Fame will be‑‑ comes to life for our runners on marathon Sunday as part of our champions road to the finish line.Â So this year is going to be rather extraordinary as Joanie and others hit Columbus circle, they'll be greeted by a yellow line for Boston, joining our traditional blue line.Â And as they look down, they can then look up, and now Nina, Grete, Fred, Alberto, now joined by Joani, Bill, Frank, and Ted will be the images above their heads.Â Our champions row leading each of our runners to their own finish lines.Â Thank you.
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