Six National Black Distance Running Hall of Fame Inductees to be Honored at 2017 NBMA Banquet
The National Black Marathoners Association will induct five individuals and the Team Marathon Running Club into the National Black Distance Running Hall of Fame during the GO!St. Louis Marathon weekend on Saturday, April 8.
- Run 3,550 miles from LA to New York City
- Featured in a Walt Disney movie
- Held the high school record for the mile (male)
- Run eleven, sub-three hour marathons (female)
- Was the first Special Olympics athlete to run the Boston Marathon
- Qualified twenty-four times and completed seventeen Boston Marathons
- Honored with an ESPN ESPY award
- And two of them are siblings from St. Louis' Sumner High School
The recipients will be celebrated at the NBMA Hall of Fame Banquet on Saturday, April 8. The banquet is held in conjunction with the NBMA's 13th Annual Gathering during the GO!St. Louis Marathon. Previous honorees have included elite and Olympian runners, such as Ted Corbitt, Marilyn Bevans, Robin Campbell, Jon Rankin, Alphonzo Jackson, and Meb Keflezighi.
"We are pleased to honor the careers and achievements of this year's Hall of Fame inductees at our Annual Summit. It's held in my hometown of St. Louis this April," said Tony Reed, Executive Director of the NBMA. "This will be a memorable weekend as we honor two of St. Louis' best distance runners, the Gregory brothers from Sumner High School. Also, the 1904 Olympic Games were held in St. Louis. And this was the first time Blacks ran in their marathon. Thus, the location is very special."
Information about the Hall of Fame banquet is available at http://www.blackmarathoners.org/
Here are the honorees and a few of their many accomplishments.
Richard "Dick" Gregory – St. Louis, MO
- Missouri high school mile champion (1951).
- Championed the integration of high school sports while in high school.
- Earned All-American honors in track (1951)for Southern Illinois University (SIU).
- Set SIU records in the 880-yard and mile races.
- Became the first black student athlete named outstanding athlete of the year at SIU (1953).
- Ran from LA to NYC. It took 73.83 days to cover 3,550 miles averaging 48.1 miles/day (1976).
- Authored several books and is a health and nutrition guru.
Ron Gregory – St. Louis, MO
- Three-time (1954, 1955, and 1956) Missouri State High School Cross-Country Champion for St. Louis'Sumner High School.
- Set a national high school mile record on May 25, 1956 with a time of 4:19.2.
- Held Notre Dame school records in thirteen different categories, including the half mile, mile (4:10) and two mile (9:14).
- Earned All-American honors in cross-country and track at Notre Dame.
- Recorded a world best for 880 yards on an indoor, 220-yard dirt track of 1:50.5 in 1960.
- Took second place in the five-mile IC4A Cross Country Championship for Notre Dame at Van Cortlandt Park in Bronx, NY in 24:38.
Ella Willis – Detroit, MI
- Youngest person, male or female, to win the Detroit Free Press Marathon (DFPM).
- Held the woman's DFPM record for 30 years.
- Had three of the top five fastest times at the DFPM.
- Finished eleven, sub-three hour marathons.
Loretta Claiborne – York, PA
- Honored in 1996 with ESPN's ESPY Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.
- Her life is recounted in Walt Disney Production's The Loretta Claiborne Story.
- Her biography, In Her Stride, was published by WorldScapes.
- She was the first Special Olympics athlete to run the Boston Marathon her time, 3:09 (1981).
- Her personal best time 3:03 in the 1982 Boston Marathon.
Isaiah Douglas - Savannah, Ga
- Longtime running coach.
- Member of the Savannah Pacers.
- Running for 30 years.
- Completed 201 races, including 44 marathons.
- Has a marathon personal best of 2:52:59.
- Qualified for the Boston Marathon 24 times. Completed 17 Boston Marathons.
Team Marathon – Cleveland, OH
- Promoting running and walking in Cleveland since 1982.
- Hosted the NBMA's Annual Summit in 2007.
- Home of National Black Distance Running Hall of Famers Frederick Davis III and Warren Elzy.