It’s impossible to imagine a more-fitting site at which to present the 2012 Abebe Bikila Award.
During the finish-line ceremony on October 31 at which city and race officials will begin to paint the blue line that traces the route of the ING New York City Marathon through the five boroughs of New York, the award—honoring outstanding commitment and contributions to the sport of distance running—will be given to the Rudin Family.
In 1976, when organizers were hoping to expand the race to all five boroughs of the city as part of the nation’s Bicentennial celebration, the Rudins were approached by race director Fred Lebow and Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton to help raise funds, according to Lewis Rudin, Jack’s brother, in a 1990 Associated Press story.
Instead, the Rudins offered to sponsor the special five-borough race that year as a tribute to their late father, Samuel, an avid distance runner and a member of the Pastime Athletic Club in the Bronx.
It’s been 36 years, and the Rudin family is still presenting the Samuel Rudin Trophy to the male and female winners of what is still a five-borough race. According to her obituary in May 1992 in the New York Times, Samuel’s widow, May, stood at the finish line each year until her early 90s to honor the victors with the trophy bearing her late husband’s name.
Mary Wittenberg, president and CEO on New York Road Runners and race director of the ING New York City Marathon, will present the award to Jack Rudin, who will accept on behalf of his family.
“It is impossible to think of the ING New York City Marathon without mentioning the Rudin family,” said Wittenberg. “Their steadfast, decades-long support of this tremendous race and NYRR have helped advance the race to be one of New York City’s most treasured traditions and furthered NYRR’s efforts to help all New Yorkers ‘Run for Life.’”
Jack Rudin, chairman of Rudin Management, Inc., said, “On behalf of the entire Rudin family, we are honored to receive the Abebe Bikila Award. We have been very proud to be a part of the New York City Marathon since 1976 …. It was such a success that the five-borough race became an annual event and is now the pre-eminent race in the world. There is no greater day in New York City than Marathon Sunday.”
The Abebe Bikila Award, named for the legendary 1960 and 1964 Olympic marathon champion from Ethiopia, has been presented annually by New York Road Runners since 1978 to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the sport of distance running. Past recipients include Grete Waitz, Fred Lebow, Bill Rodgers, Allan Steinfeld, Paul Tergat, and last year’s winner, Gérman Silva.
Photo: Mary Wittenberg and Jack Rudin