Abebe Bikila Award to be presented to past NYRR head Mary Wittenberg and George Hirsch Journalism Award to be presented to New York Times writer Jeré Longman
Public ceremony to honor inductees and award winners to take place at the TCS New York City Marathon Pavilion in Central Park on November 3 at 4:00 p.m.
New York, October 19, 2016— New York City Marathon icons Rod Dixon, Dick Traum, Margaret Okayo, and Steve Jones will make up the NYRR Hall of Fame Class of 2016, while former NYRR President and CEO and TCS New York City Marathon Race Director Mary Wittenberg will receive the Abebe Bikila Award and New York Times writer Jeré Longman will receive the George Hirsch Journalism Award this year, it was announced today by New York Road Runners. All six award winners will be honored on Thursday, November 3 at 4:00 p.m. at the Visitor’s Center at the TCS New York City Marathon Pavilion in Central Park.
NYRR Hall of Fame
Since its creation in 2011, the NYRR Hall of Fame has honored legendary figures in the sport of road running, who through their triumphs and contributions have made NYRR and the TCS New York City Marathon what they are today.
Dixon of New Zealand is the only New York City Marathon champion to have also won an Olympic medal at 1500 meters. At age 22, he captured bronze in Munich in 1972, and 11 years later he won the 1983 New York City Marathon in dramatic fashion, coming from behind to overtake race leader Geoff Smith of Great Britain in the 26th mile. Several years after his marathon win in New York, he covered the race as a TV commentator by wearing a “helmet-cam” and keeping pace with the lead runners. Dixon is also the founder and CEO of Rod Dixon’s KiDSMARATHON Foundation, which has a mission to encourage all kids to be active and to make healthy choices in their daily life. At age 66, he still runs regularly, often accompanying KiDSMARATHON participants in their workouts.
Traum has worked to help people with a disability compete as athletes in road races and other sporting events for over 30 years. In 1983, he founded Achilles International, an organization whose mission is to enable people with all types of disabilities to participate in mainstream running events in order to promote personal achievement. Traum lost his right leg above the knee as the result of a car accident when he was 24. An accomplished college wrestler, he was determined to remain physically active. Traum completed the first five-borough New York City Marathon in 1976 in 7:24, becoming the first known amputee athlete to run a marathon. He has completed 24 New York City Marathons and 61 in total, and he served as an NYRR board member for two decades.
Okayo won the New York City Marathon in 2001 and 2003—setting a course record of 2:22:31 that still stands—and also racked up two San Diego Marathon wins and one victory each at the Boston, London, and Milan marathons. In her five finishes at the New York City Marathon, Okayo never finished lower than fifth place. Okayo also showed a remarkable ability to bounce back from disappointments. Forced to drop out of the Chicago Marathon in 2001 due to dehydration, she came back to win the New York Marathon less than a month later. Similarly, she rebounded from a sub-par 2002 New York City Marathon to win the Milan Marathon within a month.
Jones of Great Britain won the 1988 New York City Marathon in 2:08:20, the fastest time in the world that year. His margin of victory, 3 minutes and 21 seconds, remains the largest in the history of the five-borough race. He set a marathon world record of 2:08:05 with his win at the 1984 Chicago Marathon, and his 2:07:13 in Chicago in 1985 remains the British record. Known for his relentless work ethic, he was also impressively understated and humble. Even at the peak of his running career, he kept his position as a technician in the Royal Air Force, once noting that he was “one hamstring tear away from oblivion.”
Abebe Bikila Award
The Abebe Bikila Award is presented to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the sport of distance running.
Wittenberg joined NYRR in 1998 and became its first chief operating officer in 2000. In 2005, she became the first woman to lead NYRR as president and CEO. With Wittenberg leading the way, the New York City Marathon, which was named the 2011 Sports Business Journal Sports Event of the Year, grew in stature as New York City’s premier annual sporting event, uniting the neighborhoods of New York City’s five boroughs and drawing runners from around the world. She left NYRR to lead Virgin Sport in May 2015. Wittenberg will represent NYRR Team for Kids at the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon.
George Hirsch Journalism Award
The George Hirsch Journalism Award, established in 2010, recognizes excellence in the reporting, writing, and broadcasting of the sport of marathon and distance running.
Longman has been a sports reporter for The New York Times since October 1993, having covered the New York City Marathon and New York Road Runners races on a regular basis for more than two decades. He has run the New York City Marathon four times himself, and last year, as part of a journalistic endeavor, raced the Pyongyang Marathon, a four-lap race through North Korea’s capital. Longman is also the author of The New York Times bestseller “Among the Heroes,” about United Flight 93 that was hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001, and crashed in Pennsylvania after the passengers and crew rebelled against the hijackers.
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“It’s our privilege to celebrate the NYRR Hall of Fame inductees and award honorees. Margaret, Rod, Steve, Dick, Mary, and Jeré have been an inspiration to so many in the running community and have been an important part of our growth as the world’s premier community running organization.”
-Michael Capiraso, NYRR President and CEO
“New York Road Runners has stood witness to history time and again, including great moments that have marked the careers of our NYRR Hall of Fame inductees and award honorees. Through world-record performances, breakthroughs in disability sport, and working to grow running’s impact, Margaret, Rod, Steve, Dick, Mary, and Jeré have all made their marks on the New York City running scene and we are thrilled to be honoring their achievements.”
-Peter Ciaccia, NYRR President, Events, and Race Director, TCS New York City Marathon
“With my induction into the New York Road Runners Hall of Fame begins another chapter in my journey to inspire the next generation of New York City Marathoners in school and in communities. My friendship with Fred Lebow and Grete Waitz connects the spirit and energy of my lifetime as a New York City Marathon champion.”
-Rod Dixon, NYRR Hall of Fame Inductee
“The tremendous impact this group of NYRR Hall of Fame inductees and award honorees has had over the past four decades is extraordinary. Margaret, Rod, Steve, Dick, Mary and Jeré, are all game changers. They are the soul of New York Road Runners. From helping to bridge gaps in gender and disability rights to advancing our sport to new heights around the globe, it’s a thrill for us to honor their achievements.”
-George Hirsch, Chairman of the NYRR Board of Directors
“I am so honored to be included among this incredible group of athletes to be inducted into the NYRR Class of 2016. The city of New York has played a significant part in the development of my running and racing career, starting with the IAAF World Cross Country Champs in 1984 and culminating with my win at the 1988 New York City Marathon. So to say that I am honored, humbled, and proud to be embraced by NYRR and selected to be a part of the Class of 2016 along with some of the greatest of my fellow competitors is such an understatement.”
-Steve Jones, NYRR Hall of Fame Inductee
“Of all the reporter-runners who have received the George Hirsch Journalism Award, I have the distinction of being the slowest. Sure, Amby Burfoot can win the Boston Marathon, but it takes a special person to nearly finish last. Fortunately, George has never held my ineptitude against me. At least not in polite company. Instead, he has always encouraged my meanderings, both as a runner and a reporter who has been fortunate enough to travel the world to explore his fascination with distance running. For that, I'm honored and grateful.”
-Jeré Longman, George Hirsch Journalism Award Recipient
“It is an honour for me to be part of the NYRR Hall of Fame. I always remember with great pleasure my days in New York and my two victories, both with the course record. Sometimes, I think I have done something great if, after more than 10 years and after many attempts by big champions, that record still stands.”
-Margaret Okayo, NYRR Hall of Fame Inductee
“Having been involved in running for over 40 years, it is a thrill to be considered a peer of athletes who I have cheered for and admired.”
-Dick Traum, NYRR Hall of Fame Inductee
“Abebe Bikila inspired generations of runners and leaders in sport, including all of us at NYRR. I am deeply honored to follow in the steps of NYRR leaders Ted Corbitt, Fred Lebow, and Allan Steinfeld in accepting this award. While it’s an award typically given to individuals, I'll accept this award on behalf of a team. The amazingly dedicated, passionate and talented NYRR team. Our dream was to lift the city and world through running. It's fitting that the team will showcase the best of running from first graders to first-time marathoners to world champions in the best-ever marathon once again this year. The commitment to distance running is immutable and the best is yet to come. I am personally so excited to experience the best of New York City and the team's work as I run the marathon for the first time this year.”
-Mary Wittenberg, Abebe Bikila Award Recipient
About the TCS New York City Marathon
The TCS New York City Marathon is the premier event of New York Road Runners (NYRR) and the largest marathon in the world. Over 1,000,000 people have finished the race since its first running in 1970 with just 127 entrants and 55 finishers running four laps around Central Park. The race expanded to all five boroughs in 1976 and is now in its 40th year as a five-borough affair. Held annually on the first Sunday of November, the race features 50,000 runners including the world’s top professional athletes and a vast range of competitive, recreational, and charity runners. Participants from over 125 countries tour the city, starting on Staten Island at the foot of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and running through the neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx before ending in Manhattan. In 2015, the inaugural NYRR Youth Invitational at the TCS New York City Marathon gave young runners the opportunity to run 1.8 miles of the race course in Central Park, beginning near mile 24 and finishing at the famed TCS New York City Marathon finish line. More than one million spectators and thousands of volunteers line the city streets in support of the runners, while millions more watch the live television broadcast in the New York area on WABC-TV, Channel 7, nationally on ESPN2, and via various international broadcast partners around the world. The race is part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, which features the world’s top marathons—Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York—and crowns the top professional male and female marathoners each year. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), a leading global IT services, consulting, and business solutions organization, is the premier partner of NYRR and the title sponsor of the TCS New York City Marathon. The 46th running of the TCS New York City Marathon is set for November 6, 2016. To learn more, visit www.tcsnycmarathon.org.