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Miki Gorman


Miki Gorman

Ahead of Her Time

Most successful marathoners begin racing shorter distances and work up to 26.2 miles. Not so 2012 NYRR Hall of Fame inductee Miki Gorman, a tiny runner who won some huge races. One of her earliest was a 100-mile/24-hour indoor ultra on the track at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, where her husband was a member. “The first year, I stopped at 86 miles,” she recalled in an interview in 2012. “I cried.” But the next year she completed the grueling challenge, and several years later she moved outside—and for the first time, she competed with other women.

Reluctant Competitor

“My husband pushed me into running because my social life was very limited,” Gorman recalled. “I tried exercise class, but it was boring. I enjoyed running, although I sometimes got dirty looks because I was a woman running.” Someone even went so far as to suggest she should be home in the kitchen—but Gorman didn’t let it get to her. “I tried to ignore attitudes like that,” she said.

In 1973, the tide began to turn for runners like Gorman when fellow Angeleno Jacqueline Hansen won the Boston Marathon. The gang at the LAAC took note. “After that, my husband and coaches and I talked for two weeks,” said Gorman. “We decided it was time to prepare for a marathon.”

Late Bloomer

Gorman was born in 1935 to Japanese parents in occupied China, and overcame childhood deprivation to move to the United States at the age of 28. She didn’t begin running until well into adulthood, and was 41 years old when, in 1976, she earned the first of her two consecutive New York City Marathon victories. Gorman is still the only woman to have won both the New York City and Boston marathons twice. In 1978, she broke the world record in the half-marathon with a time of 1:15:58.

In 2010, she was inducted into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame, and (as with all her other accomplishments in the sport), she accepted the honor with extreme modesty. “I do not deserve it,” she said at the induction ceremony.

Upon her 2012 induction to NYRR’s Hall of fame, Gorman spoke with characteristic humility. “I am glad my personal best [2:39:11] was set in New York,” she said, “but the time wasn’t fast enough. It was only my fifth marathon, and a year and nine months after I gave birth to my daughter Danielle. I should have set the ultimate goal much higher in order to keep pursuing more from distance running.”

Gorman died at age 80 in September 2015. 

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