National Distance Running Hall of Fame inducts three new members
Only once every two years do they allow new inductees into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame. The hall recognized three runners in this year's ceremony on Saturday.
Our Andrew Sorensen brings us the story of one of their newest members who is credited with a lot more than breaking records.
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UTICA, N.Y. -- The National Distance Running Hall of Fame was buzzing with excitement Saturday to bring in three new members who have made significant contributions to the sport. 2012 inductee Horace Ashenfelter was an Olympic gold medal winner and world record setting steeple-chaser.
"Anytime we get a gold medalist, that's awesome," said National Distance Running Hall of Fame Public Relations Director Mary MacEnroe.
His induction classmate, the late Glenn Cunningham was a silver medalist, and also broke records in the 800 and indoor mile.
"He was considered the best track athlete in the hundred year history of Madison Square Garden," MacEnroe explained.
But their third classmate, Jacqueline Hansen, broke more than records.
"Back in the 1960s and early 70s, they didn't believe that women could run long distances," MacEnroe said.
"I brought an international class action lawsuit against the Olympic Committee so we could run the marathon, the 5,000 and the 10,000," Hansen added.
She says the fight started long before her with pioneers like Bobbi Gibb, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon.
"Women were not only not allowed to run, they were actually forcibly removed from some races as she did," Hansen said.
She eventually won her lawsuit, and the first women's Olympic marathon was held in 1984.
Her induction symbolizes her accomplishment for female runners worldwide.
"I just feel really special and included," she said. "But also proud that I had an influence on other people's lives."
Hansen believes the playing field has evened out, especially with the help of Title IX, but it's still important for new women runners to remember how far they have come.
"Don't take anything for granted, you have a lot of opportunities that a lot of women before you fought hard to get," she said.
As Hansen joins fellow female pioneers of the sport in the Hall of Fame, she has helped secure the footprint of every other woman who decides to go the distance.
Several Hall of Fame inductees returned to Utica to help celebrate induction weekend. Many of them are also participating in Boilermaker events through Sunday.