Grant awards totaling $35,000 awarded to professional development and youth running programs
WICHITA, Kan. (February 28, 2017) – Longtime leaders in the sport of road running were honored and $35,000 in grants was awarded at the 2017 Running USA Industry Conference powered by ACTIVE Network, held February 26-28 at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Florida.
“It is an honor and a privilege to welcome hundreds of the top companies, events and individuals in the sport to our annual conference,” said Running USA CEO Rich Harshbarger. “We had an exceptional group of award winners this year, and their spirit and accomplishments carried through to the overall success of the event.”
The Running USA Hall of Champions is reserved for individuals who have made a difference in the sport of road running at the highest levels, while continuing to show devotion, vision, and commitment to the runners they serve.
The 2017 Running USA Hall of Champions honorees are Bloomsday Run race director and Olympian Don Kardong; Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon executive director Jack Staph; and noted event announcer, the Voice of IRONMAN®, Mike Reilly.
Kardong, who qualified for the 1976 Olympics in the marathon and finished fourth overall in Montreal, founded the Bloomsday Run in 1977. Quickly growing to become one of the largest road races in the world, the event has hosted more than 40,000 runners since 1986.
Staph, a long-standing member of the Running USA Board of Directors, has guided the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon since inception. Hosting more than 350,000 runners over the past 40 years, and generating more than $15 million each year for the local economy, Staph is a leading voice for the sport.
Reilly, known worldwide as “the Voice of Ironman,” has announced more than 1,000 events and welcomed more than two million athletes to finish lines over the past 30 years. A pioneer in the sport, Reilly has defined how races are called and how runners are celebrated.
The annual Trailblazer Award, recognizing female leaders in the sport, was awarded to Twin Cities in Motion executive director Virginia Brophy Achman. She took over as race director of the Twin Cities Marathon in 2003, and assumed the executive director role in 2004.
Brophy Achman has helped drive growth of the Minnesota running community, hosted national championships, and helped fellow race directors improve their events. She is a past president of Running USA and currently serves on the Board of Directors.
Furman Elite, a professional running group from South Carolina, won the Allan Steinfeld Award. The $25,000 grant is allocated annually to one national program which supports the development and success of post-collegiate runners.
Led by head coach Robert Gary, Furman Elite supports upwards of ten athletes at a time, with the goal of making world championship and Olympic teams, having sent several athletes to the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in 2016. The program, partnering with Furman University, provides housing, medical care, training and financial support.
The 2017 Youth Program Award and a $10,000 grant were awarded to the California-based Grizzly Run Club. Race SLO partners with the Grizzly Youth Academy, a life-changing high school residential program, to support at-risk teens while they train and compete in a 10K or half-marathon race.
The 2017 Running USA Industry Conference powered by ACTIVE Network, and supported by Ashworth Awards, AWP, Leslie Jordan and MarathonFoto, concluded Tuesday. Nearly 700 attendees enjoyed an incredible program filled with industry-leading speakers, an expo featuring the top companies in the sport, morning runs, networking opportunities and much more.
The 2018 Running USA Industry Conference is set to take place February 11-13 in Austin, Texas. Registration will be available soon on runningusa.org