Syracuse Online


Dr. J. on Running

Lennie Tucker

Mother of All Runners

Published April 9, 2001 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

I do not remember the first time I met Lennie Tucker of Baldwinsville. I do not remember the first time I met my parents either. It seems like Lennie has always been there for me. With a common love for trails, children and writing, we never have a shortage of stories to share.

Last month, the Road Runners Club of America selected Lennie to receive its national Kurt Steiner Children's Developmental Running Award for her contributions to youth running. The award was named after the late Kurt Steiner, an ultra-long-distance running pioneer and one of the earliest members of the NY Road Runners Club.

An elementary school teacher by profession, Lennie's patience translated into long runs for reflection and solitude. In May 1984, she ran more than 87 miles in 24 hours, and set Syracuse Chargers records of 50 miles in 10 hours, 39 minutes, 47 seconds and 100 kilometers in 13:52.14.

From timing 2-year-old toddlers in a 50-meter diaper dash, to officiating at hundreds of high school cross country and track meets, Lennie has become an icon and a legend for children's running in Central New York.

Lennie seldom passes up an opportunity to educate young athletes. Upholding high standards of ethics, Lennie insists on applying the rules with characteristic patience and compassion.

In recent years, Lennie took on the challenge of training 2-to 6-year-olds at the Chargers' track practice, and organizing the annual youth track meet in the spring. She also co-directs the children's cross-country meet in the fall, and directs a summer track and field day camp.

In its second year, the summer day camp is a cooperative venture between the Syracuse Chargers Track Club and the Syracuse Department of Parks and Recreation, with funding from the Road Runners Club of America. The five-day camp is free to young children. As the leading force behind the camp, Lennie wrote the proposal, designed the curriculum, recruited the volunteer workers, and ran the camp.

Off the trails and track, Lennie's advocacy for children often takes her to local council meetings, where her common-sense testimony based on a lifetime of teaching is often met with silence. A firm believer in the role of family in society, Lennie weighs in the role of teachers and schools in shaping today's youths into tomorrow's citizens.

An accomplished writer in her own right, Lennie wrote about running well before I wore my first shoe. A gentle teacher and a generous cheerleader, she has contributed the fabric of many of my columns.

Soon, the trails of Highland Forest will welcome Lennie back, as she leads scores of high school harriers through the ritual summer preparation for cross country season.

Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at

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