Abebe Bikila Award to be presented to Olympic medalist Jenny Simpson and George Hirsch Journalism Award to be presented to Lindsay Crouse of The New York Times
New York, October 17, 2019— Marilson Gomes dos Santos, Meb Keflezighi, Ingrid Kristiansen, and Mary Wittenberg will be inducted into the NYRR Hall of Fame Class of 2019, Olympic medalist and Rising New York Road Runners Ambassador and Special Advisor Jenny Simpson will be honored with the Abebe Bikila Award, and The New York Times’ Lindsay Crouse will receive the George Hirsch Journalism Award. All award recipients will be honored on Thursday, October 31, at 6:00 p.m. at the TCS New York City Marathon Pavilion in Central Park. The event will be open to the public.
NYRR Hall of Fame
Marilson Gomes dos Santos of Brazil won the New York City Marathon in 2006, becoming the first South American to do so. He came back to win again in 2008. Gomes dos Santos is a five-time Pan American Games medalist, and he remains the South American record-holder in the 5000 meters (13:19.43) and 10,000 meters (27:28.12). He competed in the Olympic marathon in 2008, 2012, and 2016, with a best result of fifth place in 2012.
Meb Keflezighi is the only runner in history to have won the New York City Marathon, the Boston Marathon, and an Olympic medal. In 2009, Keflezighi became the first American since 1982 to win the New York City Marathon. He finished in the top 10 in New York eight times and was the top American seven times. In 2015, he set a TCS New York City Marathon masters event record of 2:13:32. In 2014, Keflezighi won the Boston Marathon, becoming the first American man to do so since 1983. The win, in a personal-best 2:08:37, lengthened the 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist’s stay at the top of the U.S. ranks. He placed fourth in the London 2012 Olympic marathon. Keflezighi raced his 26th and final career marathon at the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon, running as an NYRR Team for Kids Ambassador and finishing in 11th place. Born in Eritrea, Keflezighi became a U.S. citizen in 1998 and won four NCAA titles while at UCLA. He set a 10,000-meter national record of 27:13.98 in 2001 that stood for nine years.
Ingrid Kristiansen of Norway set the marathon world record of 2:21:06 in London in 1985. The mark stood for 13 years. Her world record in the 10,000 meters, set in 1986, held for 16 years. At one point she held the world records in the 5000 meters, 10,000 meters, and marathon at the same time, the only person ever to do so. Kristiansen won the New York City Marathon in 1989 as well as the London Marathon in 1984, 1985, and 1988; the Boston Marathon in 1986 and 1989; and the Chicago Marathon in 1986. She was the 10,000-meter European champion in 1986 and world champion in 1987, as well as the world cross country champion in 1988.
Mary Wittenberg was the president and CEO of New York Road Runners and the race director of the TCS New York City Marathon from 2005 to 2015. 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. Under her leadership, NYRR developed into the world’s premier community running organization. Wittenberg received the 2016 Abebe Bikila Award from NYRR, presented annually to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the sport of distance running. Under her leadership, the New York City Marathon was named the 2011 Sports Business Journal Sports Event of the Year. In 2014, the TCS New York City Marathon received the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award from the King of Spain. Wittenberg helped launch the World Marathon Majors in 2006. A former partner with the law firm Hunton & Williams, she won the 1987 Marine Corps Marathon and competed in the 1988 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. She ran the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon as a member of Team for Kids to raise funds for NYRR youth programs.
Abebe Bikila Award
This award is presented to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the sport of distance running.
Jenny Simpson is an Olympic medalist and an Ambassador and Special Advisor to Rising New York Road Runners, the organization’s free youth running program. She is a two-time Olympian, having won bronze over 1500 meters at the Rio 2016 Games, in addition to taking medals in the event at the 2011, 2013, and 2017 IAAF World Championships. She has won the 5th Avenue Mile a record eight times. In her most recent victory in September 2019, she broke the event record by running 4.16:1. Simpson’s love for running originated when she joined the cross-country team in third grade and went to practices a few times a week after school. She now works closely with the staff at New York Road Runners to help implement its free youth running programs around the country. NYRR’s free youth running programs serve 250,000 kids around the United States and in Puerto Rico.
George Hirsch Journalism Award
This award, established in 2010, recognizes excellence in the reporting, writing, and broadcasting of the sport of marathon and distance running.
This year’s recipient is Lindsay Crouse, an editor, writer, and producer at The New York Times. Since joining the company in 2011, she has written dozens of widely discussed essays and articles about distance running, with a particular interest in the current rise of American female distance runners at all levels. Her essay about “The Shalane Effect” after Shalane Flanagan won the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon, became a frequently cited piece on female leadership and success. Her reporting on the sport has triggered industry-wide discussion and change. Her main role at The Times is producing Op-Docs, the short documentary series in Opinion, where she has won three Emmy awards, two Peabody awards, and two Oscar nominations. Crouse ran cross country and track at Harvard University and in her spare time still races. Her fastest marathon is a 2:57.
***QUOTES FOR EDITORIAL USE
“I’m very happy and honored to be part of the select group of people in the New York Road Runners’ Hall of Fame. I feel like I won the New York City Marathon one more time, a very special moment that I’ll cherish all my life.”
- Marilson Gomes dos Santos, NYRR Hall of Fame Inductee
“Being inducted into the New York Road Runners Hall of Fame is incredibly special to me, particularly on the 10th anniversary of my New York City Marathon win. New York is where I ran my first and last career marathons, and the site of some of my life’s greatest athletic accomplishments. New York is a special city like no other, and NYRR is an organization like no other, using the power of running to inspire millions every year at all ages and levels. I’ve been blessed to have my relationship with NYRR evolve from being a top athlete in their events to serving as an Ambassador to Team For Kids, which raises millions of dollars annually to support NYRR’s free youth running programs across the country.”
-Meb Keflezighi, NYRR Hall of Fame Inductee
“The awards means a lot to me because it is nice to get this awards 30 years after my big races. It is especially nice to get this award in New York because I almost never ran this race when I was really a good runner. I look forward to come to New York to be among the runners in NYRR Hall of Fame.”
- Ingrid Kristiansen, NYRR Hall of Fame Inductee
“We always say we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us at New York Road Runners. I am deeply honored to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I see it as a celebration and recognition of all the staff, volunteers and local running leaders who I had the great privilege to work with while at NYRR. We were inspired to open up running to many more people and share the gift of running as a way of life throughout the five boroughs of NYC and beyond. It was the mere start to the great and positive impact of today’s NYRR team.”
-Mary Wittenberg, NYRR Hall of Fame Inductee
“I was so surprised and happy to get this award—like a lot of the women I cover, I have a whole other full-time job in addition to pursuing the sports stories I care about; everything I do on distance running happens on nights and weekends. I don’t typically get much for it beyond satisfaction. So the idea that the first female recipient of this award is someone like me means we should absolutely be investing in more opportunities for telling the kinds of stories that female athletes like us are beyond eager for.”
-Lindsay Crouse, George Hirsch Journalism Award Winner
“The list of athletes and notables who have been honored with the Abebe Bikila Award contains some of the most inspiring and influential names in the history of our sport. I’m humbled to be included among them because these are the role models who inspired me as a young athlete. The youth of today are the champions of tomorrow. I’m the living example that a public school teacher with a compliment and a running program can change a life and spark the dreams of a future Olympian. It’s this experience that drives my passionate work as an Ambassador and Special Advisor to the Rising NYRR youth running programs, which serve nearly 250,000 kids nationwide. Everybody with an interest in the future health of our sport should feel compelled to make sure that every child is given the same encouragement and opportunities that I had to run, learn, and grow.”
-Jenny Simpson, Abebe Bikila Award Winner
“All of the 2019 New York Road Runners Hall of Fame inductees and award honorees have had a major impact on the running community in more ways than one. They have inspired people of all ages and abilities who have come after them to embrace running as a way to stay healthy and fit and have helped NYRR become the world’s premiere running community.”
-Michael Capiraso, NYRR President and CEO
“We are thrilled to be celebrating this year’sNYRR Hall of Fame inductees and award honorees, all of whom have accomplished a tremendous amount both on and off the roads. As pioneers in the running community in various capacities, they have paved the way for the future of our sport.”
-George Hirsch, Chairman of the NYRR Board of Directors
About New York Road Runners (NYRR)
NYRR’s mission is to help and inspire people through running. Since 1958, New York Road Runners has grown from a local running club to the world’s premier community running organization. NYRR’s commitment to New York City’s five boroughs features races, community events, free youth running initiatives and school programs, the NYRR RUNCENTER featuring the New Balance Run Hub, and training resources that provide hundreds of thousands of people each year, from children to seniors, with the motivation, know-how, and opportunity to Run for Life. NYRR’s premier event, and the largest marathon in the world, is the TCS New York City Marathon. Held annually on the first Sunday in November, the race features 50,000 runners, from the world’s top professional athletes to a vast range of competitive, recreational, and charity runners. To learn more, visit www.nyrr.org.