State ChampionshipsKristin Sweeney
It used to be said that a woman’s place is in the home. As I watched so many women run off and leave me in races and on trails, I have to laugh and wonder what coach potato thought that one up. There are of course still glass ceilings and pig headed stereo types that survive in today’s world. But there are women who smash through all the barriers to do amazing things. Sometimes, maybe, I think they have to be just a little bit better than their male counter parts – not that it is so hard – but such challenges simply inspire some people. To make my point, there are 28 members of the GWTC Hall of Fame. Without doubt the four women, Janice Hochstein (Gage), Mae Cleveland, Dot Skofronick and Margarete Deckert rise to the top of the list. Tonight’s inductee makes the case even stronger.
She is a mother, so she has established her standard of excellence while raising two beautiful daughters. She holds a unique place in GWTC history because she is a two time winner of the coveted Runner of the Year Award, and her running accomplishments truly are “Hall of Fame.” But when she won her first award 12 years ago, the presenter focused on something more important: “Whether she is asking others how their race was, answering questions about training, or smiling as she’s finishing a tough race, her love of the sport comes through.” That trait has persevered. The praise from her presenter when she won her second ROY in 2003 was similar: “In short she is the epitome of what this award was always intended to be, a runner of exceptional achievement we can all look to as a role model.”
She has been a part of the GWTC family since 1993. During that time she has served as the club’s president, contributed volumes of written materials to the Newsletter and other projects, directed races, volunteered at many other races (becoming the club’s number one stripper), served on numerous committees, hosted some of the best club parties of all time (of course chef/husband Brent must also share this glory), and she has been a strong voice of compassion and conscience. Surely you have heard this person ask “why” or “why not”? As President, she constantly pushed the club to be better and to define itself in a meaningful way, even bringing people together in a retreat to spend quality time thinking about the club’s future.
She has been an ambassador for our club in such places as New York, Boston, Chicago, Tucson, and Jacksonville, winning marathons in at least two of those cities (Jacksonville and Tucson), competing as an invited runner at Boston and placing high in the master’s category in both Boston and New York. She showed what a fierce spirit she had in Tucson, when even though the downhill race (the marathon starts high outside the city and drops steeply to the city) turned her legs to mush, she pushed through the pain to run/walk to victory. She had just a little bit of extra motivation to cross the finish line as winner because the race director had earlier tried to tell her that she wasn’t good enough to be invited. Our heroine just smiled politely when the race director, egg on face, presented her with the winner’s trophy. As part of the presentation for her second Runner of the Year Award, the presenter noted that she had run a total of 10 marathons under three hours. She has added to that number since then and no doubt will again.
She has been there in local races too and has won nearly every GWTC race at least once and won the biggest club races more than once, Springtime (twice), Palace (twice) and Turkey Trot (more times than I could count). Other races with multiple wins include the Flash 12K (5), GWTC 30K (2), Tom Brown Bash (5) and the Pine Run (8).
There are many great candidates for GWTC honors. The Hall of Fame is of course the highest and most special and it is always one of the most difficult choices for the awards committee to make. As a member of the awards committee, there was one compelling factor that stood above the others in confirming for me the committee was making the right decision this year. I can’t count the times I have heard other club members, especially women, speak in almost reverent terms about our new inductee’s accomplishments and how she has motivated them to try harder, to think better of themselves and not to let barriers or glass ceilings get in their way. It is with great pride and pleasure that I introduce the fifth woman and twenty ninth member of the GWTC Hall of Fame – Jane Johnson.