Two-time defending Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge to receive Abebe Bikila Award for his lifetime achievements
New York, October 25, 2021 – New York Road Runners (NYRR) announced today that Gary Muhrcke, Ibrahim Hussein, Liz McColgan, Kurt Fearnley and Shalane Flanagan will be inducted into the NYRR Hall of Fame as the Class of 2021, and two-time defending Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge will be honored with the Abebe Bikila Award. To mark the 50th running of the TCS New York City Marathon, this year’s NYRR Hall of Fame class will be composed of one iconic marathoner representing each decade of the marathon’s history and four different continents.
“During this historic year of the 50th running of the TCS New York City Marathon, we are thrilled to have an athlete from each decade of the marathon’s history compose our 2021 NYRR Hall of Fame class,” said Kerin Hempel, CEO of NYRR. “Gary, Ibrahim, Liz, Kurt, and Shalane each represent a rich piece of our marathon history at a different moment in time, while Eliud Kipchoge’s achievements on and off the roads have raised our entire sport to new heights over the last decade.”
NYRR Hall of Fame
The NYRR Hall of Fame, established in 2011, has honored legendary figures in the sport of road running who have made NYRR and the TCS New York City Marathon what they are today. The NYRR Hall of Fame Class of 2021 will include the following inductees:
Gary Muhrcke was the first champion of the New York City Marathon, in 1970, in a time of 2:31:38. He wore the No. 2 race bib, befitting his status as the best local runner, and was one of 127 runners who started the race and 55 who finished the four-plus hilly laps in Central Park. At the time, he worked as a firefighter and almost didn’t show up for the race as he worked the entire night previously. He was awarded a wristwatch and recycled trophy for his victory. To mark the 50th anniversary of the first marathon, on September 13, 2020, he reran a lap of the original course in Central Park.
Ibrahim Hussein became the first Kenyan winner of the New York City Marathon in 1987 in 2:11:01. During his career, he finished in the top 10 in all four of his New York City Marathon appearances and won the Boston Marathon three times (1988, 1991, 1992). He represented Kenya in the marathon at the Seoul 1988 and Barcelona 1992 Olympics. Since his win in New York, 17 other Kenyan athletes have gone on to win the New York City Marathon.
Liz McColgan of Scotland raced to victory at the 1991 New York City Marathon in her marathon debut in 2:27:24, more than three minutes faster than any other woman had run their marathon debut at the time. She earned a large medal haul in the 10,000 meters during the span of her career, including silver at the Seoul 1988 Olympics, gold at the 1991 World Championships, and two golds at the Commonwealth Games. She also won the 1992 World Championships Half Marathon, 1992 Tokyo Marathon, and 1996 London Marathon.
Kurt Fearnley of Australia has five New York City Marathon titles to his name (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2014) – tied with Tatyana McFadden for the most of any athlete in the wheelchair division – and his event-record time of 1:29:22 from 2006 still stands. He has captured 13 medals across five Paralympic Games, including a silver in the marathon and bronze in the 5000 meters at the Rio 2016 Games where he served as Australia’s co-captain. He has also won marathons in London, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seoul, Rome, Paris, Sydney, and Tokyo.
Shalane Flanagan ended a 40-year drought for American women in the open division at the New York City Marathon by seizing the crown in 2017 from defending champion Mary Keitany of Kenya with a time of 2:26:53. With her first victory in just her second appearance at the New York City Marathon—she was the runner-up in her marathon debut in 2010—Flanagan became the sixth U.S. women’s champion in the event and recorded the second-fastest time by a U.S. woman in the race. She returned in 2018 to take third, bettering her time in 2:26:22. She is a 16-time national champion and a three-time Olympian. At the Beijing 2008 Olympics, she won silver in the 10,000 meters, becoming only the second American woman to win an Olympic medal in the event.
Abebe Bikila Award
The Abebe Bikila Award is presented to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the sport of distance running. The 2021 recipient will be Eliud Kipchoge, who is the two-time defending Olympic gold medalist in the marathon and current world-record holder. He won Olympic gold in both Rio and Tokyo and set the world record of 2:01:39 at the 2018 Berlin Marathon, smashing the previous best mark by more than a minute. Raised by a single mother and the youngest of four children, Kipchoge’s achievements on the roads have transcended the running world, catapulting him to fame and raising the profile of the entire sport. Last month, he launched the Eliud Kipchoge Foundation, which will have a strong focus on education and environment, aiming to provide all children in the world access to knowledge and education, encouraging them to grow up as healthy and active adults in a green world.
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. The next George Hirsch Journalism Award recipient will be honored in 2022.
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, virtual 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 with the motivation, know-how, and opportunity to Run for Life. NYRR’s premier event is the TCS New York City Marathon. Held annually on the first Sunday in November, the race features a wide population of 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.