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Posted: November 20, 2009  : Add to Mixx! Subscribe to stories like this

(RWire) Athletics: Runner's World Honors the 2009 "Heroes of Running" in Its December 2009 Issue

Annual recognition of the year's most inspirational and extraordinary runners

NEW YORK - (November 13, 2009) - Runner's World magazine, the worldwide authority on running information, announced the recipients of its sixth annual "Heroes of Running" - an editorial and online package highlighting six inspirational individuals who use running to improve the lives of others, redefine the limits of human potential and literally make the world a better place. These six honored runners have gone above and beyond, defying expectations, breaking barriers and leading future generations of runners. The December 2009 issue is currently on newsstands.

"The 2009 'Heroes of Running' are living proof that this sport has the capacity to transform our minds and spirits, and to improve the lives of others," said Runner's World Editor-in-Chief David Willey, who launched the "Heroes of Running" in 2004. "Running is more than a trim physique or a finisher's medal; it unites communities, drives positive change and celebrates the amazing accomplishments people are capable of when faced with a challenge."

The six inspirational 2009 "Heroes of Running" include:

Amputee, Founder of the Achilles Track Club Dick Traum
Traum's story begins more than 44 years ago when he was accidentally crushed between two cars at a gas station at the age 24. His right leg may have been amputated but his motivation to move was not hindered. Traum, the first amputee to run a marathon (New York City in 1976) went on the complete 11 races on his prosthetic and 25 more in his current his racing vehicle - the handcrank. In 1983, he founded the Achilles Track Club with the mission to integrate disabled athletes into mainstream events. In its first year, six disabled athletes finished the NYC Marathon. Today, there are 150 Achilles chapters in more than 60 countries and more than 500 Achilles participants will complete a marathon this season.

World Champion Distance Runner Kenenisa Bekele
There is a growing number of people calling him the finest distance runner of all time and Bekele has the resume - five world track titles, three Olympic gold medals, 10 world cross-country championships and five world records. With all the titles to be had, he is now putting his winnings to good use for his hometown of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The natural-born champion plans to fund an athletics center to help inspiring young athletes train, motivate and persevere. And with Bekele as the main attraction, it looks more promising than ever. It's speculated that he's in full force training mode to beat the marathon record time of 2:03:59, currently held by fellow Ethiopian great, Haile Gebrselassie.

Special Operations Wounded Marine Keith Zeier
Zeier, an American Marine has experienced his fair share of overseas battle while serving his country in Fallujah. With more than three near death experiences, Zeier returned home following a road side bombing that left the active 20-year-old with a 12-inch scar and virtually no sensation in his left leg. On the mend following months of physical therapy, Zeier was ridden with survivor's guilt ("I'm alive and a bunch of my friends aren't"), and knew he needed to find his calling. He decided to run a 100-mile race from Key Largo to Key West, Florida to raise money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which provides financial assistance to wounded soldiers and college tuition to children of service men and women. Twenty-four hours after he announced his mission online, the foundation received $50,000 in pledges, the most ever in a one-day span. To-date, Zeier has raise $85,000, all on a leg he may have to amputate one day.

World-Class Adventure Racer, Founder of Project Athena Robyn Benincasa
A world-class adventure racer, Benincasa has climbed the Himalayas in Nepal and trekked across lava fields in Fiji. In 2007, she was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and told she may never run again. But it takes much more than a bad health report to knock down the 42-year-old San Diego firefighter. She quickly underwent hip resurfacing surgery and 16 weeks later ran the Sedona Marathon. Months later, she launched Project Athena - a non-profit that helps women who have suffered a medical setback live out their athletic dreams. She recruited a team of accomplished females athletes to serve as coaches and mentors to Project Athena's growing roster. "For women battling a medical condition, being alive sometimes isn't enough. Doctors can cure bodies but we can cure their spirits."

Teenage Humanitarians Phil Carlitz and Andrew Hudis
When American teenagers Carlitz, 16, and Hudis, 15, first saw the plight of Karen refugees while on a trip to Thailand with Rustic Pathways - a global community service program for students - they felt they had to do something big. Both avid runners, the Philadelphia-area teens organized a marathon in Thailand to raise awareness and funds for Karen refugee children living under severe circumstances. On July 5, 2009, in Mae Sariang, Thailand, the teens' vision became a reality with The Rustic Pathways Foundation's Inaugural Tribe-to-Tribe Marathon to benefit Karen refugee children. They had hoped for a few dozen runners, but 500 people, including runners from Australia, Japan, England and the United States joined the cause, raising $10,000 for the local orphanage. Additionally, those funds provided the necessary resources to send more than 25 teenage refugees to high school. Carlitz & Hudis have committed the next decade to this event and plan to turn Tribe-to-Tribe into a destination race to raise $250,000 annually for the refugees.

For more information, pick up the December 2009 issue or go to its award-winning website:

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