Thirteenth Class (2016)
Race Director, Portland Marathon
For more than 30 years, Les Smith has directed the Portland Marathon, an event that consistently is cited as one of the best in the country. Smith, who is a lawyer by trade, took over the reins of the event in 1982, growing the marathon from a mere 450 finishers to one that consistently ranks as one of the largest in the Northwest. Smith also founded the Event Director College, a successful conference bringing together race directors from across the country, while being an active Running USA member since the organization’s founding.
Founder NYC Marathon, Founder of NYRR
In 1970, Central Park was closed to traffic on weekends, so Fred Lebow decided put on the first New York City Marathon in Central Park. There were 126 starters and 55 finishers. Lebow, born in Transylvania, became president of the New York Road Runners in 1972. Then, in 1976, he redrew the NYC Marathon to go through all five boroughs of the city, creating the event we know today. Lebow passed away in 1994 and has since been honored as a transformative figure in the industry.
Founder Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure
Nancy Brinker is regarded as the leader of the global breast cancer movement. Her journey began with a simple promise to her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything possible to end the shame, pain, fear and hopelessness caused by this disease. In one generation, the organization that bears Susan's name has changed the world. Her creativity in raising awareness led to programs that at the time were revolutionary: In 1983, she founded the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure® series, which is now the world's largest and most successful education and fundraising event for breast cancer.