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Dr. J. on Running

DeMar, Prefontaine, Salazar, Waitz

Class of 2000

Published April 17, 2000 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

At last Saturday's (April 15) Former Champions Breakfast at the Boston Marathon, the National Distance Running Hall of Fame announced the members of its Class of 2000. Clarence DeMar, Steve Prefontaine, Alberto Salazar and Grete Waitz will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame in Utica during a July ceremony.

Clarence DeMar won his first Boston Marathon in 1911 against the race physician's warning that he had a heart murmur. After a 5-year hiatus, DeMar returned in 1917 to finish third, then he won six more times between 1922 and 1930. His last victory came just shy of his forty-second birthday, giving him the most Boston victories.

DeMar ran Boston a total of 33 times, the last at age 65, earning him the nickname Mr. DeMarathon. He participated on three US Olympic marathon teams, and won the bronze medal at the 1924 Olympics in Paris, France. DeMar died in 1958 at the age of 70 of stomach cancer.

Steve Prefontaine was born on January 25, 1951, in Coos Bay, Oregon. He was an outstanding high school distance runner at Marshfield High School in Coos Bay, before joining the University of Oregon. There, Pre became the first athlete ever to win the same event at the NCAA track and field championships four consecutive years, winning the 5,000-meter title in 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1973. He also won the NCAA cross-country championship in 1970, 1971, and 1973, and the national 5,000-meter championship in 1971 and 1973.

Pre finished fourth at 5,000m in the 1972 Olympics, and held American records in the two-mile, 3,000m and 5,000m runs. He died on May 30, 1975 at the age of 24 in a car accident. He was elected to the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1976 and to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1991.

Alberto Salazar grew up in Wayland, MA, near the start of the Boston Marathon. An NCAA cross-country and track star at the University of Oregon, Salazar finished third in 10,000-meters Olympic Trials in 1980. In his first marathon at age 21, he won the New York City Marathon in 2:09:41 in 1980, and returned to win it again in 1981 and 1982.

On a hot Patriot's day in 1982, Salazar won the Boston Marathon by two seconds in a course record of 2:08:52. Poor hydration and the heat damaged his pituitary gland and adversely affected his ability to regulate his body temperature. This injury curtailed Salazar's running, as he turned to coaching and preaching. In 1994, Salazar celebrated his return to racing with an amazing victory in the 53.8-mile Comrades Marathon in South Africa.

Grete Waitz was arguably one of the world's finest athletes. A high school teacher in her native Oslo, Norway, she dominated the international running scene during the seventies and eighties. Her achievements included fifteen world records and eight number one rankings at various distances from 1,500 meters to the marathon. In the process, Waitz won five World Cross Country Championships, nine New York City Marathons, two London Marathons, a gold medal at the 1983 World Championship Marathon in Helsinki and a silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Marathon in Los Angeles.

In 1982, Waitz became the only athlete to receive St. Olav's Medal, given by the King of Norway for Outstanding Citizenship. In 1991, Runner's World selected Waitz as the best distance runner in the world in the last century.

The Hall of Fame will induct DeMar, Prefontaine, Salazar and Waitz on Saturday July 9, the eve of the 23rd running of the Utica Boilermaker 15K road race. The ceremony will be held on the grounds of the Masonic Home in Utica, NY and will be open to the public. TrackMeets.com will carry the induction ceremony live on the world-wide web in streaming video using Tandem Multimedia Simulcast technology.

This year's inductees bring the total membership of the National Distance Running Hall of Fame to thirteen. The inaugural 1998 class consisted of Ted Corbitt, Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Frank Shorter and Kathryn Switzer, while the 1999 class consisted of Johnny Kelley, Nina Kuscsik, Billy Mills and Francie Larrieu-Smith.

Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. He maintains TrackMeets.com, the world leader in live track webcasting, and receives email at jabbour@syr.edu.


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