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RRCA Announces 50th Class of Distance Running Hall of Fame Inductees

January 29, 2020

Kara Goucher, Bernard Lagat, Tatyana McFadden, and Bee McLeod receive honor

Arlington, VA– Founded in 1971, the RRCA Distance Running Hall of Fame inducts American citizens that have attained extraordinary levels of achievement in the sport of distance running as either an athleteor as a key influencer, an individual that has contributed a considerable amount of their time and knowledge to the betterment of the sport of distance running.

The RRCA is proud to announce its 50th class of RRCA Distance Running Hall of Fame inductees. These outstanding contributors to our sport will be honored at the RRCA National Running Awards Banquet and Ceremony on March 21, 2020 in Portland, OR.

Kara Goucher (néeGrgason, born July 9, 1978), was a standout runner for the University of Colorado.  In 2000, Goucher became the NCAA Outdoor Champion in the 3000 m and 5000 m, the NCAA Cross Country Champion, and also a 5000 m Olympic Trials Finalist (eighth).

After finishing second in the 5K at the USATF Outdoor Championships in 2006, Goucher set PRs at all distances on the international circuit, running the World “A” Standard in the 1500 m, 5000 m, and 10,000 m. She finished third in the 3000 m at the 2006 IAAF World Cup in a new personal best time of 8:41.42. Her 3000 m time led the nation and her 10,000 m time ranked her as the 2nd fastest American woman of all time. At the 2007 IAAF World Championships in Osaka, Japan, she won the bronze medal in the women’s 10,000 m event.  Her career on the track culminated in 2008 when Goucher competed in the Beijing Summer Olympics in both the 10,000 m and 5,000 m. In the 10,000 m final, she placed tenth with a personal best of 30:55.16, and in the 5000 m she placed ninth with a time of 15:49.39.

Goucher made her marathon debut at the New York City Marathon on November 2, 2008. She finished in 3rd place with a time of 2:25:53, becoming the first American, at that time, on the podium since Anne Marie Letko in 1994.  The next year, she placed 3rd at the 2009 Boston Marathon with a time of 2:32:25. At the 2009 World Championships, she finished 10thin the marathon with a time of 2:27:48.

Following the birth of her son, Goucher returned to competition at the Arizona Half Marathon in January 2011, finishing second. In April of that year, Goucher returned to marathoning in Boston, where she placed 5th with a time of 2:24:52, setting a new personal best. Goucher qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics by placing 3rd at the U.S. Olympic Trials – Marathon in Houston, TX, with a time of 2:26:06.  She would go on to place 11th at the 2012 Summer Olympics with a time of 2:26.07.

Bernard Kipchirchi Lagat (born December 12, 1974)moved to the United States from Kenya in 1996 to compete collegiately at Washington State University.  While there, Lagat was an 11-time NCAA All-American, winning the 1999 NCAA Indoor Mile title in 3:55.65.  Lagat first represented his native Kenya at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. He would take home a bronze medal in the 1500 m. Four years later, he would improve on his performance at the Olympics, taking home a silver medal in the 1500 m at the Athens games for Kenya. Lagat also won his first gold medal in international competition that year, placing first in the 3000 m at the IAAF World Indoor Championships.

In March 2005, Lagat announced that he had become a citizen of the United States and would compete for his new country internationally. In 2008, Lagat represented the U.S. at the Beijing Olympic Games in both the 1500 m and 5000 m, but an Achilles tendon tear impacted his performances during the Games. At the 2012 Olympic Trials, Lagat was runner-up in the 5000 m to make his 4th Olympic team. At the 2012 Olympics in London, Lagat finished 4th in the 5000 m race, crossing the line 1.33 seconds behind the leader, Mo Farah, after being tripped up when he was going into his final kick. Lagat won the 5000 meters at the 2016 United States Olympic Trials, qualifying him for his 5th Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Lagat became the oldest runner at the 2016 Summer Olympics to represent the United States. Lagat initially claimed the 6th-place finish in the 5000 meters at the Olympics. He was moved to bronze after three runners were disqualified, but was moved back to 5th after 2 out of the 3 were reinstated.

Lagat made his marathon debut in 2018 at the New York City Marathon with a time of 2:17:20. In July 2019, Lagat ran 2:12:10 in the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia. The result placed him 7th overall and brokeMeb Keflezighi‘s US Masters record (40+) of 2:12:20 in the men’s marathon. As of 2019, Bernard Lagat now holds the fastest time by a US 40+ man at every distance from the 1500 through the marathon.

Tatyana McFadden (born April 21, 1989)was born with a hole in her spine caused by spina bifida.  She spent the first six years of her life in a Russian orphanage with virtually nothing, not even a wheelchair. Paralyzed from the waist down, and with no other way to move, she learned to walk on her hands simply to keep up with the other children. In 1994, Deborah McFadden, then Commissioner of Disabilities for the U.S. Department of Health, came upon Tatyana while visiting her orphanage on a routine business trip. She felt a connection, an inexplicable feeling that they were meant to be together. Deborah adopted Tatyana, brought her to the United States and gave her both a wheelchair and a new start on life.

At 15, Tatyana made her Paralympic debut in Athens in 2004. She was the youngest member of Team USA. She returned from Greece with her first two medals and a hunger to become the best. Two years later she was winning gold at the World Championships and setting a new world record in the 100 m event. At the 2008 Paralympic in Beijing, at 19 and still in the infancy of her athletic career, she earned four more medals. In 2012 at the London Games, she added another four medals, three of which were gold. One year later, at the 2013 World Championships, she became the first athlete in history to win six gold medals at the same event. Her dominance was in full swing, and she was only 24 years old. In 2016 at the Rio Paralympics, Tatyana continued her dominance in wheelchair racing by winning four gold and two silver medals, bringing her total count of Paralympic medals to 17.

Tatyana challenged herself with the professional marathon circuit in 2009, and with her win at the Chicago Marathon, she set off an extraordinary string of first place finishes that is still going strong. In 2013 she won the Chicago, London, Chicago, and New York marathons; becoming the first man or woman, able-bodied or disabled, to win the Grand Slam (four World Major Marathons in the same year).  She repeated her Grand Slam victory in 2014, 2015 and again in 2016.

Bee McLeod (born 1961, deceased December 21, 2019) brought a pioneering spirit to the sport of running that was evident early. In high school, there was no women’s cross country team, so she competed as a member of the men’s team. Following college she became active in her local club, the Tidewater Striders, and served in various leadership roles including club president from 2000-2004. Bee ran over 60 marathons and countless shorter distance races (winning several), finished the Ironman Triathlon Lake Placid, and competed in duathlons around the country. In 1988, she qualified for and ran in the Olympic Trials Marathon. In 2000, she was a member of the U.S. team for the World Championship Duathlon, competing in Calais, France.  McLeod gave 35-years of continuous, valuable service to U.S. distance running and is credited with being “the savior of the RRCA.”

The RRCA, at the turn of this century, was undergoing a crisis of survival, with financial deficits in excess of $180,000. The RRCA’s Footnotes publication was bankrupting the organization. Many RRCA members were very dissatisfied with the organizations administration and financial position. In December of 2002, several RRCA leaders and many RRCA members withdrew and formed a new association, the American Association of Running Clubs (AARC).  This group aimed to replace RRCA.  At the time, McLeod was president of her local RRCA member club. During this time, she became active in both the newly-formed AARC and the RRCA (AARC secretary 2002-2005, RRCA At-Large board member 2003-2004).  In 2004, under difficult circumstances, Bee McLeod was elected president of the RRCA.  Bee worked with the RRCA board and several mentors to make many constructive changes during her tenure as president (2004-2008), including major updates to the RRCA bylaws.  Those updates constitute the main structure of the RRCA bylaws that remain in force today.

As a result of McLeod’s efforts, the RRCA made a dramatic turnaround, including the dissolution of the AARC.  At the end of McLeod’s presidency the RRCA eliminated its deficit and had over $500,000 in reserves along with a policy that requires board intervention for spending decision if the board restricted reserve fund falls under a specified amount.  That policy remains in place today.  McLeod remained engaged with the RRCA following her term on the board as a major donor to the organization and its programs.  She continued to attend every RRCA Convention since her term as president expired. In 2014, she received the Browning Ross Spirit of RRCA award.

About the RRCA: The Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) is the oldest and largest national association of running organizations and runners dedicated to growing the sport since 1958. The RRCA champions the development of community-based running clubs and events that serve runners of all ages and abilities in pursuit of health and competition. The RRCA’s vision is to see an organized running club established in every community in the U.S. To learn more, visit: www.RRCA.org

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