Meb Keflezighi, Edwin Moses Highlight Runner’s World Magazine’s 2010 Heroes in Dec. Issue

Runner’s World Chooses Nine Athletes Who Inspire for 7th Annual Heroes Issue

New York, NY– (November 2, 2010) The simple act of moving forward is a powerful force and can change lives. American marathon champion Meb Keflezighi and legendary hurdler Edwin Moses are among the nine individuals chosen by Runner’s World magazine (Dec. 2010 issue, on sale Nov. 9) as the 2010 Heroes who have proven this statement true. These nine athletes have used running to combat childhood obesity, to provide medical aid to Haitians or to show the world just how far an underdog can go. They are Heroes in every sense of the word.

“With our Heroes of Running, we honor visionaries and humanitarians, obscure runners who’ve overcome profound obstacles and elite athletes who’ve excelled in competition, said Runner’s World Editor-in-Chief David Willey, who instituted the Runner’s World Heroes of Running in 2004. “This is one of my favorite projects every year.”

The 2010 Runner’s World Heroes:
The Champion: Meb Keflezighi
The Legend: Edwin Moses
The Rising Star: Lisa Koll
The Leader: Cliff Sperber
The Inspiration: Rick Ball
The Humanitarian: Tara Livesay
The Warrior: Capt. Ivan Castro
The Master: Colleen De Reuck
The Coach: Lester Loner

The 2010 Heroes of Running will be available online at www.runnersworld.com/heroes/ when the Dec. issue hits the newsstands Nov. 9.

The Champion: Meb Keflezighi
When the American seized the lead of the 2009 ING NYC Marathon at the 24-mile mark, spectators in Central Park gasped. No American man had won this race in more than a quarter century. And when he neared the finish pointing to the letters on his singlet, chants of “USA” washed over him from the sidelines. His 2:09:15 was a PR and 41 seconds faster than the second-place finisher. Keflezighi did David Letterman’s Top Ten List and appeared in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. The victory seemed even sweeter given Keflezighi’s background. Born in Eritrea, he had arrived in San Diego at age 12 with his parents and 10 siblings, and started winning cross-country medals in high school. In the fall of 2007, Keflezighi fractured his pelvis and some in the running community whispered that the 2004 Olympic Marathon silver medalist was finished. But the competitor in him wasn’t done. “I’m not the guy who goes out and hammers out the fastest times,” Keflezighi, 35, says. “But I still have the silver medal. And I will never forget the day I won the New York City Marathon. November 1 is almost my new birthday.”

The Legend: Edwin Moses
For nine years, nine months, and nine days, Moses was as close to perfect as anyone in modern athletics had ever seen. From August 1977 until May 1987, he ran in 122 400-meter-hurdle races. And he won every one of them. “I studied what the Cuban and the Russian athletes were doing,” Moses says today, “then I put together a program I thought I could survive.” For three years, Moses adhered to a brutal schedule of endurance, speed, and hurdling training. He calculated that he could cover the 40 meters between each hurdle in 13 steps (instead of the customary 14) if he took strides of exactly nine feet, nine inches. At the Montreal Olympics, he executed his plan, winning a gold medal and the world record. He went on to collect another Olympic gold and three more world records. For the past decade, Moses has served as chairman of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which supports 80 athletic programs for disadvantaged kids on six continents. “The poverty I saw gave me a purpose in life,” he says. “There was open sewage, garbage everywhere, and people lived in tiny shacks.” He watched children playing soccer with inflated condoms wrapped in plastic bags. “I thought, ‘I want to give these kids a chance.’” Moses expanded a soccer program in Mathare, Kenya, the foundation’s first initiative. Now 55, Moses no longer runs due to back problems. But he remembers the last time he did: In 2006, he held a hurdles clinic for kids in New York. At the end of the session, Moses raced his young charges. “I finished dead last,” he says with a wink in his voice.

The Rising Star: Lisa Koll
Koll accomplished more in four months than most collegiate athletes do in four years. In March, the Iowa State University senior set a new collegiate 10,000-meter record of 31:18.07. But that wasn’t her main mission. “I wanted the double,” she says, referring to victories in the 5000 and 10,000 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. In June, she did just that, winning the 10,000 by 24 seconds and taking command of the 5000. Koll, who finished her undergraduate education in three years and moved on to veterinary school while managing 95 miles per week, took second in the 10,000 at the USA Championships.
In a 5000-meter race in Paris in July, she joined the elite corps of American women who’ve broken 15:00 with a 14:55.74. Then she made her pro road-racing debut at the Bix 7-Mile—which she won.
American marathon record holder Deena Kastor praises Koll’s “aggressive racing, smart tactics, and fearless demeanor. We haven’t seen the last of great performances out of Lisa.” Not nearly. In August, Koll joined the Oregon Track Club to train with some of the country’s best distance runners. “I thrive off high mileage,” she says. “Eventually, I’d like to try the marathon. All I know is that it scares me, and I want to wait until I’m ready.”

The Leader: Cliff Sperber
As executive director of New York Road Runners Youth and Community Services, Sperber has rallied children to the cause of good health by getting them to do one thing: run. Sperber, 59, joined NYRR in 2001 with the goal of getting more New York City kids to exercise. But when the obesity epidemic became an American health crisis, Sperber’s mission ballooned. Under his leadership, the NYRR’s flagship youth initiative, Mighty Milers, has gone national (schools in all 50 states participate) and global (there are 25,000 Mighty Milers in South Africa, for example). The program encourages kids to run or walk a half-mile (or more) 2-5 times a week. During the 2010–2011 school year, Sperber expects 115,000 children in 500 schools to run 3.25 million miles collectively. “Seeing a girl or boy beaming because they ran a mile without stopping is astounding,” Sperber says. “It’s a dream job. I’m the luckiest guy.” Sperber’s new project is A Running Start, which offers online instructional videos and support to coaches, teachers, and parents. It’s available to anyone anywhere in the world, free of charge. He is also hopeful that his work inspires his network of coaches, teachers, and parents to press their local and state governments to support physical education in schools. “The reality is, we could produce the greatest students in the world,” Sperber says. “But if they’re all going to get type-2 diabetes and other diseases in their 30s and 40s, what’s the point?”

The Inspiration: Rick Ball
Ball lost his left leg below the knee in a motorcycle accident near his home in Ontario in 1986. His prosthetic leg comes with many mechanical issues— including the possibility that the whole thing could come clean off. (Word to the wise: “Loctite on the bolts,” Ball says.) Not that this has kept him from running—very fast. In April 2009, Ball set a world record for single-leg amputees with a 3:01:50 marathon. The next month, he notched the single-leg amputee 10-K record with a 37:55. Then he ran a 1:20:44 half-marathon—another world’s best. And most recently, this past May, he broke three hours in the marathon, running 2:57:47. Ball, 45, hadn’t been a runner before his accident. “I felt sorry for myself until I saw people at the hospital worse off than me,” he says. “I got out of bed and started doing push-ups.” Today Ball shares his story as a motivational speaker for corporate audiences, hospitals, and running clubs. But the married father of two says he especially enjoys talking to school kids. “My message is that if something bad happens to you, never give up,” he says. “Everybody has their challenges. It’s what you do about it in the end.” Ball always has another goal to chase. Next up: The 2011 International Paralympic Athletics Committee World Championship and the 2012 Paralympic Games. He’s on an unpaid leave of absence from his transit job to train full time for those. “I plan to race for a long time,” he says. “But I’d like to coach runners with disabilities, so they can try to break my records.”

The Humanitarian: Tara Livesay
Livesay often dodges buses, donkeys, and potholes on her runs in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in the 100-degree heat. But she’s out there for a larger purpose: Through running, she has raised more than $180,000 to help care for the people of Haiti. Livesay, 38, has long been invested in the country’s welfare. She and her husband, Troy, adopted two Haitian children in 2002, and moved from the Twin Cities in Minnesota to Haiti in 2006 to volunteer for Christian nonprofit organizations. Livesay also ran two marathons, in October 2009 and January 2010, through which she raised $129,000 to purchase an ambulance and medicine for her community. When the devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit on January 12, six of the Livesay’s children were evacuated to Texas, where their oldest attends college. Tara and Troy stayed behind and worked at a medical clinic. Two weeks later, Livesay was back on the road. “Running was the only thing that made sense to me, that had an element of control to it,” she says. “But I can’t even describe the experience. To see how the quake had taken what was already a tough place and just wrecked it further…” The tragedy made a deep impression on her daughter, Paige, 15. This summer, she followed her mom’s example and ran her first half-marathon, and with her mom’s help, she raised $52,600, which will provide prefab homes to 42 Haitian families. Despite all she has accomplished, Livesay deflects the recognition she receives to those who inspire her: the Haitian people. “To live in the conditions they live in with such grace,” she says, “it’s amazing.”

The Warrior: Capt. Ivan Castro
Castro, 43, has always pushed limits. A career Army man, he joined the Special Forces in 1999 to see if he had what it took to be a sniper. Castro was on a rooftop in Youssifiyah, Iraq, in September 2006 when mortars landed five feet from him. Shells shredded the right side of his face and tore off parts of his arm, buttocks, and shoulder. Both lungs collapsed; he suffered a pulmonary embolism and an aneurism. The blast also nuked his right eye and lodged shrapnel in his left, leaving Castro permanently blind. “I felt desperation, anger, depression,” Castro says. But a visit from a blind Marine two months after the attack made Castro realize that although his ability to see was gone, he—the soldier, the leader, the guy who loved a challenge—was not.
Castro, who had been a runner since high school, set a goal to finish his first marathon. Thirteen months and 36 surgeries after the attack, Castro ran the 2007 Marine Corps Marathon in 4:14—and found his new mission: show other disabled warriors “what blind can do.” Since then, he has met with members of Congress to advocate for wounded veterans’ participation in the Paralympics, spoken at military and civilian events to encourage employers to hire the blind, and counseled disabled soldiers. When he visits injured veterans, his message is simple: As long as you’re breathing, life is worth living. Castro has completed 12 marathons, many of them guided by Lt. Col. Fred Dummar, whom he met on the Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Army base.
Castro is one of three blind active-duty officers in the Army, where he works in the Special Operations Recruiting Battalion. Castro thinks of himself as an example of what the Army can provide— brotherhood and a meaningful life mission—not of what it could cost you.
Still pushing his own limits, Castro plans to finish a 100-miler, bike across the United States, and hike the Appalachian Trail. “Listen, I’m driven,” he says. “There’s nothing I can’t do.”

The Master: Colleen De Reuck
How many 46-year-old women can run a 5:45 mile? And how many can gut out that lung-searing pace for 26.2 consecutive miles? That’s exactly what four-time Olympian De Reuck did in May when she won the Copenhagen Marathon in 2:30:51, beating all but six men. Equally impressive? De Reuck juggles 100-mile training weeks while raising a teenager and a toddler, and working part-time as a personal trainer. But this is, after all, a woman whose energy knows no bounds. Darren, her husband and coach, implores her to nap after her morning runs. But the Boulder, Colorado, athlete says, “When I lie down, I’m like, I can’t nap; I have so many things to do.” That to-do list includes keeping up with 15-year-old Tasmin and 3-year-old Tara and beating the shorts off younger runners. De Reuck won the 2004 U.S. Olympic Women’s Marathon Trials in 2:28:25, just 10 days shy of her 40th birthday. At age 45 in 2009, De Reuck became the oldest woman ever to claim a national title, winning the USA 20-K Championships by an 18-second margin. The runner-up was 26. Despite these feats, De Reuck remains remarkably modest. “I don’t rate myself as a fantastic, talented athlete,” says De Reuck, who was born in South Africa and became an American citizen in 2000. “I just have perseverance. I’m a cart horse. I work hard.” De Reuck isn’t sure what the future holds after October’s Chicago Marathon, and it’s a feeling she relishes. “Normally, it was a four-year plan between Olympics,” she says. “Now I just go with the flow. I don’t have to do anything. I choose races because I want to run them.”

The Coach: Lester Loner
In 21 years, Loner has coached thousands of Special Olympians who’ve won gold medals on the state, national, and international level. But one of his proudest moments came when an athlete successfully executed a standing long jump—after practicing the move for three years. Loner, 56, a father of four, is the training coordinator for the Lycoming County, PA, chapter, which has 175 athletes competing in 15 sports. Loner leaves the Williamsport Water Authority, where he’s the office manager, at 4:30 p.m. Then he puts in a full evening of coaching (he oversees six sports). He also certifies coaches, enters athletes into competition, and negotiates with gyms for athletes to use their facilities. And he’s the race director of the local Frostbite Five-Miler, which raises thousands of dollars for the program each December. For his dedication, Loner was named the Special Olympics North American Coach of the Year in 2007. “He can motivate these athletes like no one else,” says Ginny Boyles, a coach and mother of a Special Olympian. “He’ll kid around, but they know when it comes time to work, he means business. They don’t get that a lot. They just want to be treated like anyone else.”

About Runner’s World
Recognized as the worldwide authority on running information, the mission of Rodale’s Runner’s World is to inform, advise, and motivate runners of all ages and abilities. Runner’s World, published by Rodale, aims to help runners achieve their personal health, fitness, and performance goals, and to inspire them with vivid, memorable storytelling. Currently Runner’s World publishes 14 international editions. Runner’s World’s award-winning companion Web site, www.runnersworld.com, is the largest running community on the Internet, featuring interactive, searchable, and targeted content for runners of all ages and abilities.

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