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Dr. J. on Running

Class of 2001

Dellinger, Jennings, Lebow, Virgin

Published July 9, 2001 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

Last Saturday, the National Distance Running Hall of Fame inducted its class of 2001: Fred Lebow, founding director of the New York City Marathon; Bill Delinger, former University of Oregon coach; and Lynn Jennings and Craig Virgin, Olympians and world cross country champions.

Born in Romania on June 6, 1932, Lebow was an avid runner and a racing pioneer. He founded the New York City Marathon, and served as its director from 1970 to 1993. He transformed the marathon from a local event in Central Park with 55 finishers to the world's largest marathon with over 25,000 finishers running through all five boroughs of New York City.

In early 1990, Lebow was diagnosed with brain cancer. Two years later, he ran his first five-borough marathon in celebration of his 60th birthday. Lebow died of brain cancer October 9, 1994. Throughout his career, he completed 69 marathons in 30 countries.

Dellinger was born in Grants Pass, Oregon on March 23, 1934. He ran at the University of Oregon under coach Bill Bowerman, and became the first sophomore at Oregon to win the NCAA mile in 1954. In 1956, Dellinger broke the American 5000 meters record three times, and won the 5000 meters at both the NCAA and Olympic Trials. He competed in the 1956, 1960 and 1964 Olympic Games.

After serving as Bowerman's assistant coach, Dellinger became Oregon's head coach in 1967, coaching Steve Prefontaine and Alberto Salazar. His teams won four NCAA cross-country titles and placed second four more times. Dellinger retired in 1999. He suffered a stroke in August 2000, and continues his rehabilitation.

Born July 1, 1960, in Bromfield, Massachusetts, Jennings won a bronze medal in 10,000 meters at the 1992 Olympics at Barcelona, in an American record time. She is a three-time Olympian, three-time World Cross-Country champion and nine-time National Cross-Country Champion.

At the age of 17, Jennings ran on the boys' track team at her high school. In 1978, she ran her first Boston Marathon as an unofficial entrant in 2:46, which would have placed her third and in an age record. In 1999, Jennings finished the Boston Marathon in 12th place.

Virgin was born in Belleville, Illinois on August 2, 1955. His national record time of 8:40.9 for two miles still stands as the fastest time ever recorded in an all high school race. In college at the University of Illinois, Virgin won nine Big 10 Championships, an NCAA Championship, and qualified for the US Olympic Team.

Virgin won two World Cross-Country Championships, was a three-time Olympian in the 10,000 meters, the 1976 NCAA Cross-Country Champion, and a seven-time US record-holder in road and track. He remains the only American male to win the I.A.A.F. World Cross-Country championship. Virgin retired from serious competitive running in January 1992. He is the president and founder of Front Runner Inc., a sports marketing company.

The Induction Ceremony took place at the Stanley Theater in Utica.

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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