2002 Runner of the Year

Presented by Bud Fennema to Bill Hillison

I am sure that many runners in our club could qualify for “Runner of the Year,” but I will try to explain why Bill Hillison richly deserves such designation. I suppose that the first criteria that runner of the year should meet is that they run. And Bill does – a lot. Regardless of weather, injury, or whatever, he laces up his shoes and hits the road or trail. And all that training has translated into some excellent race performances. Through countless races, over the entire spectrum of distances, Bill has consistently finished with few contestants in front of him. But it is at the longer distances that he particularly shines. His win of our local 50K last year, added to his many previous wins in that event, tells me that he has thoroughly figured out how to do all those things necessary to push your body much further than it wants to go. His many, many marathons (most under three hours) confirm this.

But Bill’s ability to run is not the only – maybe not even the most important – characteristic that I think qualifies him for runner of the year. What sets him apart from many other outstanding runners is his propensity to help others run better. Over the years of his running career, Bill has unselfishly shared his training and his wisdom with many runners in our club, me included. Most of what I know about training, toenail maintenance, finishing a race, and all the other intricacies of distance running I’ve learned from him. Most club members know how difficult it is to slow a training run down to uncomfortable levels in order to accommodate a slower runner. Most of us also know the value of someone who is willing to do so. And we know the value of someone who will drag us through our paces when we feel unwilling or unable to do so. Bill exemplifies that person.

Through my rather short (compared to many club members) running career I’ve come to believe that many of that characteristics that lead to excellence in running are the same ones that lead to excellence in life in general. This is certainly the case for Bill. As I stated in the beginning, there are many runners in the club that could easily be designated as runner of the year – but I can think of no one who deserves the 2003 Runner of the Year more than Bill Hillison.