Local running legends and pioneers in the sport of long distance running headline the Sacramento Running Association’s fifth Hall of Fame class.
Running renaissance man Rich Hanna, three-time Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run champion Bjorg Austrheim-Smith, Sports Illustrated cover athlete Marie Mulder, internationally recognized youth coach Will Stephens and long-time UC Davis coach and industry pioneer Sue Williams earned spots in the class of 2017, which will be honored at the SRA’s Hall of Fame and Annual Achievement Awards dinner on Feb. 18 at the Holiday Inn Capitol Plaza in Sacramento.
Tickets for the 6 p.m. event are $50. For more information, visit RunSRA.org.
"The Sacramento Running Association's annual Hall of Fame event is such a great evening that brings together people throughout the region to celebrate Sacramento's rich running history and vibrant running community," said Scott Abbott, executive director of the Sacramento Running Association.
"It has quickly become one of my favorite events of the year.
"Every year, I am in awe of the multi-faceted and multi-talented Hall of Fame classes that are pulled together; it is a testament to the depth of accomplished runners and dynamic contributors to the sport in the Sacramento region.
"This year is no exception, as we are excited to induct two transcendent coaching pioneers, two "trailblazing" (literally and figuratively) female runners, and one of Sacramento's most respected and popular running figures."
Hanna stared at Sacramento High School and City College before transitioning to road racing and ultra running after college. He set a marathon PR of 2:17:51 at the 1993 California International Marathon and an age division course record 21 years later at the 2014 CIM. The two-time national 100k champion placed second at the 2001 World 100k Championship in Cleder, France and set an American age division record at the Jed Smith 50k in 2014. Over the past 15 years, Hanna has coached over 4,000 runners through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training Program and the Harey Tortuga Fitness Program. Hanna owns and operates Capital Road Race Management, Northern California’s premier race timing company.
Austrheim-Smith is a three-time Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run champion, claiming the top spot in 1981, 1982 and 1983. Her 1981 (18:46:00) and 1982 (18:23:00) Western States performances were both old course records, making her the first of three women to have set the course record more than once. In 1981, in addition to her Western States victory, she took home first place at the American River 50 and the Grand Canyon Double Traverse. A year later, in 1982, she won the Jed Smith 50, the American River 50, Western States, the Skyline 50k and the AMJA 50-Miler. In her career, Austrheim-Smith has run Western States and AR50 10 times with a combined five first-place finishes and five runner-up performances.
Mulder trained with Will’s Spikettes and stared at Foothill Farms Junior High School before moving with her family to Washington, D.C. She broke the national girls' 880-yard indoor record the first time she ran it in 2:11.4. Mulder went on to win the first Women’s US National Cross Country Championship in 1964, covering the 2k course in 6:51. In 1965, at the age of 15, she placed second to Germany’s Antje Gleichfeld’s world record time in the 800-yards in Berlin. Mulder graced the cover of Sports Illustrated in May of 1965. In July of 1965, she won the 880 to set an American record of 2:11.1 and just 90 minutes later set another American record in the 1500 meters with a time of 4:36.5 at the Women’s National AAU Meet. In 1966, she lowered her American records in the 880 to 2:10.2 and 800 to 2:07.3.
Stephens founded and coached Will’s Spikettes, one of the first competitive girls’ youth track clubs in the country. The long-time Encina High School coach won five consecutive national women’s cross country championships from 1964 to 1968 with the Spikettes. The former Marine coached three Olympians in Kathy Hammond, Kathy Weston and Evelyn Ashford, eight national champions and 18 national team champions. In 1966, Stephens coached the United States team, which competed against the British Commonwealth team. Stephens transitioned to collegiate coaching when he took over the Oregon State University women’s track and field program in 1977. The Portland native passed away in 1982.
Williams coached both the Aggie women’s and men’s cross country teams to unparalleled success during her 29 years at UC Davis. She coached more than 80 All-Americans and led the women’s team to a record 22 appearances, including 21 top-10 finishes, at the NCAA Championships. Williams enjoyed similar success with the men’s team, earning berths to the NCAA Championships 10 times in 12 years. In 1991, the women’s team finished second and the men’s team fourth to earn UC Davis the title of "Program of the Year." Williams’ contributions to NCAA cross country in the 1980s led to hear being named the National Coach of the Decade.
The five inductees join the 27 members already in the SRA Hall of Fame. The inaugural class of 2013 featured Billy Mills, Rae Clark, Eileen Claugus, Chris Iwahashi, Helen Klein, Paul Reese, Dennis Rinde and Linda Somers Smith. The 2014 class included Michael Stember, Al Baeta, Patti Gray Bellan, Lindsay Hyatt Barr, Harold Kuphaldt, John Mansoor, Heike Skaden Mansoor and Tim Twietmeyer. The 2015 class featured Sally Edwards, Walt Lange, Eric and Mark Mastalir, Jim O’Neil and Bill Finkbeiner. The 2016 class included Clifton West, Alex Kosinski, Jim Howard, Bob King and Greg Soderlund.
The Sacramento Running Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding new ways to encourage people of all ages and abilities to run. The SRA is committed to developing new, quality running events that appeal to a broad variety of runners.