Here's a closer look at eight amazing athletes of yesteryear, some of whom are still inspiring countless runners today.
Those scheduled to be inducted into the Sacramento Running Association's first Hall of Fame at a dinner on Saturday night at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in
Sacramento are: Billy Mills, Rae Clark, Eileen Claugus, Chris Iwahashi, Helen Klein, Paul Reese, Dennis Rinde and Linda Somers Smith.
Bios written by John Schumacher:
* Billy Mills -
Billy Mills turned one of the greatest moments in Olympic history into a platform for
helping and inspiring others.
Mills stunned the track world by surging past favorite Ron Clarke of Australia and
Mohammed Gammoudi of Tunisia to win the gold medal in the 10,000 meters at the 1964
Olympic Games in Tokyo.
His then Olympic record time of 28 minutes, 24.4 seconds was nearly 50 seconds faster
than his previous best. Mills is the only American to win an Olympic gold medal at that
distance; Galen Rupp claimed silver last year at the London Olympics.
A Fair Oaks resident, Mills, who grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for Oglala Lakota Sioux in South Dakota, has spent much of his time since then encouraging others to reach for their dreams.
"There are so many social issues in the world today," Mills said. "The Olympic Games
represent what I call the future of humankind. Global unity, through the beauty and
character of global diversity.
Global unity through global diversity. We're all related."
As the national spokesperson for Running Strong for American Indian Youth, Mills has
reached out to Native American youth hoping to help them avoid problems like diabetes
Mills said he considered taking his own life as a young man before he heard a voice
telling him, 'No.' After going on to win an Olympic gold medal, he's happy to share his
story with others.
"All I wanted to do was to become a voice for Native American children," he said. "As
the voice that said to me, 'No.' I just wanted to be that voice for a lot of young people
who feel nobody cares."
Mills earned the opportunity to be that voice with his stunning performance in Tokyo.
After finishing second in the U.S. Olympic Trials, the Kansas All-American was not one
of the medal favorites.
But he surged past favorites Clarke and Gammoudi in the final stretch to win the gold in
what remains one of the biggest upsets in Olympic track and field history.
Mills recalls a critical moment in the race with two laps to go when Clarke turned around
to see who was behind him.
"My whole inside of me was, 'My, God, he's worried,'" Mills said. "That just inspired
me ... He later said 'I looked back and didn't see any of the name runners in the world.'
My perception was he's worried.
"My whole mentality was I can run with anybody in the world for six miles. ... It gave
me the strength to stay with him."
When Mills had lunch with Gammoudi's daughter during the London Olympics last year,
she told him her father thought the race was his with 30 meters to go.
But this golden moment belonged to Mills.
Mills, who moved to the Sacramento area in 1973 with his wife Pat, said he was honored
to be inducted into the SRA Hall of Fame.
"I was really thrilled," he said. "It's home. We fell in love with Sacramento and the
weather, believe it or not, years ago.
"We moved up here to be closer to the ski resorts. We fell in love with the summer
* Rae Clark -
Rae Clark did it all, winning races and setting records on the road, trail and track.
So he chuckles in embracing a label given him for his ability to succeed in so many
running venues: Renaissance Man.
"Whoever coined that one, I thought that was kind of funny," Clark said. "Road, track
and trail, I do them all."
He's done them well enough to earn a spot in the Sacramento Running Association's
Hall of Fame. Clark, who lives in Auburn and works as a special education teacher in
Newcastle, will be inducted during a dinner on Jan. 26 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in
Other members of the inaugural class are Eileen Claugus, Chris Iwahashi, Helen Klein,
Billy Mills, Paul Reese, Dennis Rinde and Linda Somers.
Clark, 60, cherishes his induction into the American Ultrarunning Hall of Fame in 2011.
But he points out joining the SRA's Hall of Fame feels even better.
"This one means more," he said. "This is where I live."
Clark started running after moving to the San Jose area in his 20s. He made the most
of the opportunity to train with the likes of Rich McCandless, the 1988 California
International Marathon winner, and Nancy Ditz, the 1985 CIM winner who finished 17th
in the 1988 Olympic Marathon. That training base helped launch a career that includes
several records and a handful of 'perfect days.'
He set the course record for the 72-mile race around Lake Tahoe with a 9-hour, 6-minute
and 14 effort in 1982. Clark was also one of the regular frontrunners in the early days
of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run with seven top-10 finishes, including a
third-place effort in 1984 and a fourth-place performance in 1983.
Clark ran a 2:28:53 marathon 1989 in Las Vegas before delivering a pair of memorable,
record-setting performances that cemented his status as an ultra running legend.
He won the 1989 U.S. 100-Mile Road Championship in New York City by more than
an hour, finishing in a national record 12:12:19. He followed that up by setting another
American mark in the 1990 U.S. 24-Hour National Track Championship in Portland,
Ore., covering 165.3 miles to win by a whopping 23 miles.
Clark looks back on four races - the Lake Tahoe victory, his marathon P.R. in Las Vegas
and his ground-breaking triumphs in New York City and Portland - as magical days
when everything clicked.
"It all came together mentally, physically, spiritually, whatever," he said. "I kept pushing
it knowing this is just one of those days. Those were the highlights.
"What speed I had, I could hold the speed for a long time."
Clark considers himself fortunate to still be running and enjoying the sport.
"I've always loved the game, loved getting out there and enjoyed the hundreds of people
I've met," he said. "It's just my life."
Tickets for the Hall of Fame dinner are $50. Group and table of 10 reservations are
welcome and can be made at www.runsra.org.
The dinner, which begins at 6 p.m. and includes a no-host cocktail hour, will also feature
the presentation of Annual Achievement Awards to the Sacramento area's top runners in
track, road racing, cross country and ultra running.
* Chris Iwahashi -
* Chris Iwahashi's running resume includes an impressive array of accomplishments.
She won the Napa Valley Marathon three times and recorded victories at Avenue of the
Giants, Marathon de Medoc in France, the Detroit Free Press Marathon, the Bidwell
Classic Marathon and the Russian River Marathon.
Her 2-hour, 45-minute and 28-second personal best came at the 1988 California
International Marathon, an event she's finished 21 times. Iwahashi has completed more
than 160 marathons, finished the 56-mile Comrades Marathon in South Africa four times
and owns personal bests of 3:37 for 50k and 7:09 for 50 miles.
What Iwahashi is most proud of, though, is connecting others to the sport. She's led a
variety of training groups over the years, started the first Team in Training program in
Sacramento and mentored many local runners.
"I've always tried to make it a good experience for everybody," said Iwahashi, who is
scheduled to be inducted into the Sacramento Running Association's Hall of Fame during
a dinner on Saturday night at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento.
"Seeing people make accomplishments, that's the most pleasing part for me. That's why I
"It's just going out there and trying to encourage people to just try. You don't have to be
the first person over the line. Just be a little better than the day before."
Iwahashi, who lives in West Sacramento, joins the inaugural Hall of Fame class of Rae
Clark, Eileen Claugus, Helen Klein, Billy Mills, Paul Reese, Dennis Rinde and Linda
"I don't feel like I'm worthy of such a distinction," she said. "That's an amazing group of
people. I look at them in awe."
When Iwahashi, a 57-year-old research biochemist, looks back on her running career she focuses on the relationships she's built.
"What running has done for me, I'd have to say it's a portal to the community, people
in the world," she said. "I've had the opportunity to run thousands of miles away and
developed some wonderful friendships.
"It's just been fun to connect with communities all around the world."
* Dennis Rinde -
Dennis Rinde can look back on his running career and take great pride in an impressive number of significant accomplishments.
The former Casa Roble High School and Sacramento State standout ran eight marathons under 2 hours and 15 minutes, including a 2:12:01 effort in finishing seventh at the 1981 Boston Marathon, a performance that remains the fastest time recorded by a home-grown marathoner.
Rinde ran in three U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, lowering his personal best with a 2:14:22 effort and a 10th-place finish in 1980. He won the Manitoba Marathon seven times and recorded a 2:14:13 clocking in the 1984 California International Marathon, still the fastest time ever recorded in the race by a local runner.
Ask him what he's most proud of about his running days, though, and he points to the present.
"Well, probably that I'm still sticking with it," said the 54-year-old Rinde, who runs 6-8 hours a week.
"I'm still running."
Rinde's efforts have earned him a spot in the Sacramento Running Association's inaugural Hall of Fame class. He's scheduled to be inducted with Rae Clark, Eileen Claugus, Christine Iwahashi, Helen Klein, Billy Mills, Paul Reese and Linda Somers on Jan. 26 during a dinner at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento.
"It's quite an honor to be recognized and be up there with Billy Mills and some other Olympians like Linda Somers," Rinde said. "It's really an honor to be inducted."
Rinde recalls his seventh-place Boston Marathon finish in a race that included Bill Rodgers and Craig Virgin as another highlight.
"It was a good day," he said. "I kind of started off a little slow against a really stellar field.
"I was just kind of picking people off and got into the top 10. I ran out of yardage. Another 200-300 yards, I would have finished in the top five."
Rinde ran in several CIMs, noting he enjoyed the 26.2-mile journey from Folsom to the state Capitol.
"I enjoy the (Sacramento) community," said Rinde, who lives in Davenport near Santa Cruz.
"It was a really competitive running community."
Rinde went on to win three World Championships in Ride-and-Tie, a sport that pairs a horse with two runners who cover a set distance alternating running and riding. He teamed with Jim Howard, a former Western States Endurance Run champion and sub-2:20 marathoner.
* Paul Reese -
Paul Reese had a hand in starting a lot of things related to running. He was a pretty good
The former U.S. Marine Corps Colonel founded the Clarksburg Country Run and the
Lake Tahoe 72-Miler. He was an early member of the Buffalo Chips Running Club and
served as race director of the Capitol-to-Capitol 140-mile run and the Sunkist 100.
Putting on his own running shoes led to a whole different series of adventures.
Reese, who died in 2004, covered 3,192 miles in 124 days during his run across the
United States at age 73. He completed running across all 50 states in 1980, finishing in
Hawaii. Reese logged 123,000 miles during his 35-year running career.
For his efforts, Reese will be inducted into the Sacramento Running Association's Hall of
Fame during a dinner on Saturday night at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento.
He joins the inaugural Hall of Fame class of Rae Clark, Eileen Claugus, Chris Iwahashi,
Helen Klein, Billy Mills, Dennis Rinde and Linda Somers Smith.
"The thing about Paul is just how tough he was," said John Mansoor, the Sacramento
Running Association's executive director. "You've got this pain? So what? Grind
"He was a very nice guy, one of the toughest people I know."
That toughness served the World War II and Korean War veteran well. Reese, a former
Sacramento City school administrator, competed in the early Rocklin ultramarathons, the
Lake Tahoe 72-Miler, the Comrades Marathon in South Africa and the Western States
100-Mile Endurance Run closer to home.
Reese finished his first marathon in his mid 40s, completing the Belmont Marathon in
3:40. At 63, he finished the Sacramento Marathon in 3:02:22 and the American River 50-
Mile Endurance Run in 8:01:51.
After turning 64, Reese then went out a few months later and finished Western States in
He also found time to write three books on running.
Mansoor recalled Reese's efforts in launching the race that is now known as the Paul
Reese Memorial Clarksburg Country Run.
"He started the Pepsi 20," Mansoor said. "This was Paul's way of trying to get high
school kids to transition to the long run. For a lot of people, it worked.
"I didn't do it. Paul kept telling me what a wimp I was. He could just tell you to quit
whining and get going.
"He was definitely the person in this town in terms of starting a lot of things."
* Linda Somers Smith -
Consider Linda Somers Smith the poster child for perseverance.
The former tennis player started running in college, taking a back seat to star teammate
Patti Gray at UC Davis. But Somers Smith, then known as Linda Somers, showed she's a
competitor who never gives up.
Check out her post-collegiate record and marvel at how she developed into a world-class
Somers Smith won the Chicago Marathon in 1992 (2:37:41) before capturing back-
to back national marathon championships with victories at the California International
Marathon in 1993 (2:34:11) and Grandma's Marathon in 1994 (2:33:42).
She then delivered her most memorable performance in February of 1996.
At 34, Somers Smith made the U.S. Olympic Team with a personal best 2-hour, 30-
minute and 6 -second effort to finish second at the Olympic Marathon Trials en route to a 31st place finish at the Atlanta Games.
Her 2:33:40 performance in the 1989 CIM remains the fastest time by a Sacramento-area
woman in race history. Somers Smith also qualified for seven U.S. Olympic Trials and
went on to become a record-setting Masters and senior runner.
Those exploits made Somers Smith an obvious choice for the Sacramento Running
Association's Hall of Fame. She is scheduled to be inducted at a dinner on Saturday night at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento.
She joins the other members of the inaugural Hall of Fame class: Rae Clark, Eileen
Claugus, Chris Iwahashi, Helen Klein, Billy Mills, Paul Reese and Dennis Rinde.
"Perseverance, to me, was her best trait," said John Mansoor, the Sacramento Running
Association's executive director. "She didn't start running until late, in college. That was
not that unusual back then.
"Patti (Gray) was the thing at UC Davis. Linda, just try as she would, could not keep up
or beat Patti. Linda was pretty competitive. That really bothered her.
"Linda just kept at it and kept at it and kept at it, then at (34) makes the Olympic team."
Somers Smith also placed seventh in the 1995 World Championships with a 2:32:12
effort and was 11th at the 1995 Boston Marathon with a 2:34:30 performance.
And she's still going strong. Somers Smith, a UC Davis Law School graduate and an
attorney who lives in Arroyo Grande, finished 28th at the U.S. Olympic Marathon
Trials last January in Houston with a 2:37:36 effort at age 50, breaking Joan Benoit
Samuelson's American age-group record.
She earned USA Track & Field's Outstanding Masters Award in 2008, 2010 and 2011
and was inducted into the Road Runners Club of America Hall of Fame last year.
"Now obviously she's one of the best senior women in the world," Mansoor said.
"There's no quit in Linda."
Mansoor points to runners like Somers Smith and Kim Conley, a member of the SRA's
Elite Team who made the U.S. Olympic team last year in the 5,000 meters, as reasons for
supporting the development of post-collegiate runners.
"It shows exactly why we have the SRA Elite program," he said. "There is a lot of
development after college. Kim Conley had that same trait."
* Eileen Claugus -
Eileen Claugus looks back with deep appreciation for a running career that included national records, marathon victories and a spot as an alternate in the 1,500 meters on the 1972 U.S. Olympic team.
What the former Rio Americano High School and UC Davis star really savors, though, is the transition she's made from intense, focused competitor to someone who enjoys running several days a week with her two Golden Retrievers, Kyley and Savvy.
"I guess for me I feel like the real victory is I started running when I was 12," she said. "Now I'm 57 and I still love running.
"I'm glad I live a more-balanced life. I'm doing fine right now.
"I sort of made the transition to I won't say a normal life, but I'm not a crazed runner anymore. It helps me."
Claugus, who works as a counselor at American River College and lives in Fair Oaks, is scheduled to be inducted into the Sacramento Running Association's Hall of Fame at a dinner on Jan. 26 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento.
Other members of the inaugural class are Rae Clark, Christine Iwahashi, Helen Klein, Billy Mills, Paul Reese, Dennis Rinde and Linda Somers.
"I felt very flattered," said Claugus, who learned of the honor after running into Sacramento Running Association executive director John Mansoor during a trail run.
"When I look back I really appreciate it."
Claugus started running as a member of Will's Spikettes. She won numerous national titles as a teenager, setting a national age-group record for the mile with a 4:44.5 effort to win the 14-17 division at the national championships.
She set a national high school mile record of 4:40.7 that lasted for 10 years. Claugus placed second at the World Cross Country Championships in 1971, was an alternate to the U.S. Olympic team in the 1,500 meters in 1972 at 16 after finishing fourth in the Trials with a 4:22.1 effort and won the national title in the 2-mile run in 1973.
Claugus earned Female Athlete of the Year honors at UC Davis in 1975. She later did very well in the marathon, qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1984, 1988 and 1992 and winning the Honloulu Marathon in 1982, the British Marathon in 1983 and the San Francisco and Mexico City Marathons in 1987.
She ran 2:37:16 in finishing fourth at the 1982 Chicago Marathon and remains the Sacramento area's fastest home-grown marathoner.
"There were a lot of benefits for me," Claugus said. "I was a very driven person when competing and doing well. I was very, very disciplined.
"I loved the travel that went along with that. I loved the relationships I built. I built some pretty strong bonds."
* Helen Klein -
Ask Helen Klein what she's most proud of in her running career and she doesn't talk about any of the world records she's set or the demanding ultramarathons she's conquered.
She simply mentions paving the way for others.
The 90-year-old Rancho Cordova runner has certainly done that, her inspiring story offering encouragement to countless others hoping to get in shape, lose a few pounds or train for something special.
Klein, who has finished 143 ultras and 90 marathons and set two world age-group records at the California International Marathon, is scheduled to be inducted into the Sacramento Running Association Hall of Fame on Jan. 26 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento.
She joins the inaugural class of Rae Clark, Eileen Claugus, Christine Iwahashi, Billy Mills, Paul Reese, Dennis Rinde and Linda Somers.
"Hopefully I've encouraged other people," Klein said. "That's my main goal, to get everybody out running, especially because of all the obesity and unhealthy people."
Many people have told Klein, a retired nurse, how inspiring and encouraging her story is. She didn't start running until she was 55, launching a career that earned her a spot in USA Track & Field's Masters Hall of Fame and included world age-group marathon records of 4:31:32 when she was 80 and 5:49:11 when she was 85, both at the CIM.
No one reminded Klein better of her contribution to the sport than a 5th-grade boy in a letter he sent her while she was training for her 75th marathon. She had spoken to his class as it was preparing for the CIM's Kaiser maraFUNrun.
"He wrote, 'You're my hero along with Michael Jordan and Peyton Manning,'" Klein said. "'I hope you finish your 75th marathon and I hope you continue to run until you bite the dust.'"
That was enough to inspire Klein, who still puts in five miles of walking/running every morning and goes to the gym three times week.
"I always throw in a run for that boy," she said.
* More honorees -
Tickets for the Hall of Fame dinner are $50. Group and table of 10 reservations are welcome and can be made at www.runsra.org.
The dinner, which begins at 6 p.m. and includes a no-host cocktail hour, will also feature the presentation of Annual Achievement Awards to the Sacramento area's top runners in track, road racing, cross country and ultra running.
High school honorees include Trent Brendel, boys cross country athlete; Maggie Bell, girls cross country athlete; Bob King, boys cross country coach; John DuCray, girls cross country coach; Edixon Puglisi, boys track athlete; Madeleine Ankhelyi, girls track athlete; and Donene Vukovich, girls track coach.
Brendan Gregg will receive the men's college track athlete of the year, with Deborah Maier earning the women's track athlete honor. Other college honorees include Trevor Halsted, men's cross country athlete; Sarah Sumpter, women's cross country athlete; Rick Anderson, men's cross country coach; and Drew Wartenberg, women's cross country and track coach.
Olympian Kim Conley, the women's track athlete of the year, heads the open division. Other honorees include
German Fernandez, men's track athlete; Lindsay Tollefson, women's cross country, road racing and marathon athlete; Kevin Pool, men's cross country and road racing athlete; Tim Tollefson, men's marathon athlete; Jacob Rydman, men's ultra athlete; and Rory Bosio, women's ultra athlete.
Masters honorees include Marcelo Lerda, men's cross country athlete; Karen Jeffers, women's cross country
athlete; Chris Knorzer, men's road racing and marathon athlete; Midori Sperandeo, women's road racing athlete; Mary Coordt, women's marathon athlete; Rich Hanna, men's ultra athlete; and Jennifer Pfeifer, women's ultra athlete.
Seniors honorees include Kevin Ostenberg, men's cross country athlete; Sara Freitas, women's cross country athlete; Iain Mickle, men's road racing athlete; Janice Kesterson, women's road racing athlete; Jacob Nur, men's marathon athlete; Rena Lantz, women's marathon athlete; Lee McKinley, men's ultra athlete; and Karen Bonnett, women's ultra athlete.
The SRA will also honor several super seniors: Adam Ferreira, men's cross country athlete; Yvonne Nickel,
women's road racing athlete; Richard Powers, men's marathon athlete; Nancy March, women's marathon athlete;
Larry Cawthon, men's ultra athlete; and Barbara Ashe, women's ultra athlete.
Men's cross country athlete Robert Seldner, men's road racing athlete Ronald Gross and women's road racing athlete Rusty Barnett are the veterans honorees.
The Sacramento Running Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding ways to encourage people of all ages and abilities to run. The SRA is committed to developing new, quality running events that appeal to a broad variety of runners. SRA events include the recently concluded California International Marathon, the Super Bowl Sunday 10k Run on Feb. 3, the Credit Union SACTOWN Ten-Mile Run on April 7 and the Lake Natoma Four Bridges Half Marathon on Oct. 27.
SRA beneficiaries include the American River Parkway, youth fitness programs, local running venues and aspiring young runners.