RRCA Announces 54th Class of Distance Running Hall of Fame Inductees

April 12, 2024

Lewis “Deerfoot” Bennett, Camille Herron receive honor

Arlington, VA /ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – Founded in 1971, the RRCA Distance Running Hall of Fame inducts American runners that have attained extraordinary levels of achievement in the sport of distance running as either an athlete or 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 54th class of RRCA Distance Running Hall of Fame inductees. These outstanding contributors to our sport will be honored at the RRCA National Running Awards Luncheon and Ceremony on May 4, 2024 in Costa Mesa, CA.

Lewis “Deerfoot” Bennett, a Seneca Indian from the Cattaraugus Reservation, dominated the long-distance racing scene in the mid-19th century. Born in 1830, Bennett ran under the name “Deerfoot,” and achieved amazing feats on both sides of the Atlantic. Deerfoot won his first race in 1856 at the Erie County fair, running five miles in 25 minutes. His victory earned him a purse of $50. His reputation spread beyond Western New York, and he raced frequently at fairs all over the Northeast. An English sports promoter heard of Deerfoot and booked him on a 20-month European tour, where he went from mysterious runner, to entertainer, to world record holder. The intense competition against the best British and Irish runners helped him improve dramatically. With the aid of pacemakers, he set world records of 10 miles in 51:26 and 12 miles in 1:02:02.

Deerfoot’s physical appearance and manners added to his attraction. He stood tall, at almost 6 feet, and weighed 160 pounds. He ran most of his races with a naked chest, wearing a feather apron around his waist and a band with one eagle feather around his head. His dark complexion was a stark contrast to the sun-starved British athletes. He yelled war whoops as he raced to victory. His popularity extended rapidly beyond the racing crowd, and The Prince of Wales attended many races and contributed to the purse. Following his return to America, Deerfoot continued to run locally, limiting his races to Western New York, New York City and Boston. In August 1868, he won a five-mile race in Buffalo in 24:15, despite giving the rest of the field a quarter-mile head start. Bennett was inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 2011, and the Western New York Running Hall of Fame in 2019.

“On behalf of the RRCA, we thank Hayden Haynes, Director of the Onöhsagwë: de’ Cultural Center of the The Seneca-Iroquois National Museum in Salamanca, New York for raising awareness about Lewis Deerfoot Bennett’s contribution to the sport of running,” explained Jean Knaack, CEO. “Through this induction, we celebrate the long history of Native peoples’ contributions to the sport of running.”

Camille Herron is an ultrarunner, scientist, coach, ambassador, public speaker, and model. She is known for running with her hair down, a big smile, and eating tacos to fuel ultramarathons. She is a four-time IAU International Ultrarunner of the Year and six-time USATF Ultrarunner of the Year. She is the only athlete who’s won all the IAU Ultra Road World Championships (50km, 100km, and 24Hrs). She is the first ultrarunner to win both the prestigious Comrades Marathon and Spartathlon. In 2023, she became the first woman to break 24 hours at the grueling 153-mile Spartathlon (22:35:31). She has set numerous Ultra World and American Records between 50 miles and 48 hours. In 2023, she became the first woman to surpass a men’s American Record, when she improved the women’s 48Hr World Record by 14.8 miles to 270.505 miles (435.336km)- which also ranks her 3rd best in the world behind only two men.

Camille has crossed over to trail running with competitive wins at the JFK 50 miles, Bandera 100km, Black Canyon 100km, Tunnel Hill 100 (Course Record and Trail Best 12:42:40), Tarawera 100km and 100 miles (Course Records for both), and the Javelina Jundred (Course Record in 14:03:23). She has numerous overall wins on the road, track and trails, beating all of the men. Additionally, she is a 3-time Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier (personal best of 2:37:14), 21-time marathon winner, competed on the 2011 US Pan American Team in the marathon (9th place), and set the Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon in a superhero costume (2:48:51 dressed as Spiderwoman). In April 2022, she became the youngest woman to reach 100,000 lifetime running miles.