It’s an “on” year for the Maine Running Hall of Fame, partly because the board votes in new members every other year, but mostly because the class of 2012 is so eminently deserving.

The six runners, who will be inducted at a ceremony Nov. 11 at the Captain’s Galley in Old Orchard Beach, were chosen for their “significant contributions to the sport of running in Maine.” They are:

Bob Coughlin of Cape Elizabeth; Jeanne Hackett of Scarborough; Ronald Kelly of Scarborough; Ron Paquette of Albion; Brian Pettingill of Scarborough; and the late Michael J. Ryan.

This column will take a look at three inductees; next week’s, three more.

Looking for background info just now, I reached into the desk drawer and pulled out a random Mainely Running magazine, September 1994. The page opened at the Yarmouth Clam Festival 5-miler on July 16 where Coughlin, then 55, ran a national-standard 31 minutes flat; age-graded, that translates to 26:10.

Then I entered his name in the newspaper archives, and among the many fine race finishes was a 1:32 in the Maine Half Marathon in 2001, when Coughlin was 62.

Those are just two small examples of a 36-year running career (more than 600 races) that has seen Coughlin complete 57 marathons, with a personal record of 2:44 at the Maine Coast Marathon in the early ’80s, and nearly matched by his 2:45 at the Casco Bay Marathon that fall. He also ran 20 consecutive Boston marathons, from 1985-2004.

Other PRs include a 1:17 half marathon and a 50-mile PR of 6:54, at the Rowdy Ultra in Brunswick.

Speaking of the legendary Maine Rowdies, Coughlin used to run with them often, but he remembers being told he couldn’t be a “real” Rowdy, because he didn’t drink enough. Makes sense; Coughlin remembers that at age 38, taking up running was a good health move, “to lose weight, and all that.”

He was then a teacher in his native South Portland, where he taught for 30 years after he had to give up being a baker because he became allergic to flour. Coughlin’s been a triathlete, a Maine Track Club president, and a director of races, including the local Terry Fox event.

He’d like to see fellow Rat Packers Mike Reali and cardiologist Dick McFaul at the ceremony, and he’s still running, doing Beach to Beacon every year.

Another B2B devotee is Hackett, who’s run them all, and in fact set her 10K PR of 38:32 there in 1999, when she was 40. That year she was Maine Track Club Runner of the Year, an honor she has received six times from 1998-2011. She was Run To Win/Nor’Easter Run’s Runner of the Year seven times, from 1998-2010.

A native of Needham, Mass., Hackett focused on lacrosse in college (UMass) and ran her first race, a 5-miler on Cape Cod, in 1980.

Her running career is notable for its longevity (she’s achieved PRs over 20 years, from an 11:21 3K at the Deering Oaks Invitational in 1992 to a 10:09 2.5K at the Longfellow February Frostbite last year); its multiple age-group victories at races including B2B, and for its versatility over the distances. Her six marathons include a PR of 3:15 at age 51 just two years ago at Boston, which put her seventh in her age group.

Beyond athletic accomplishments, Hackett is known for contributions including volunteering and race directing (e.g. the Midwinter Classic 10-miler in the past, and the Dan Cardillo 5K since 2003. Her coaching includes being a mentor at Long Creek and helping fund-raising runners for the Center for Grieving Children.

Competitively, it’s an off-year for Hackett due to IT issues, but one highlight was watching the women’s Olympic marathon in London with husband Paul Toohey. And another will be the Hall induction, where she’d like to see longtime coach Brian “Ziggy” Gillespie (also a Hall member) and Ray Shevenell, longtime running mate with whom she co-directed the Midwinter Classic.

Kelly, a lifelong Scarborough resident, is just about to embark on his 41st year of highly successful coaching both boys and girls, going back to 1972 and including outdoor and indoor track and cross country, adding girls’ cross country in ’74. His teams’ titles — conference/regional/state — number 7/11/13 in cross country and 11/4/10 in outdoor. His indoor track teams have won 13 conference and eight state championships just since 1997.

Kelly, 60, explains that a heart murmur kept him from running until he was in ninth grade. After that, “he was actually a pretty good runner, which few people realize,” said Christine Snow Reaser, who’s on the Hall board and on its roster.

Indeed, Kelly ran a 5:11 mile and 54 seconds in the 400 in high school, and competed at a high level in cross country at what is now the University of Southern Maine, as well as being team MVP in outdoor track his junior year.

Snow Reaser has an excellent perspective on Kelly’s career; she’s coached against him in recent years, and has known him since she participated in Maine AAU-TAC-USATF programs for which Kelly has done outstanding volunteer youth development work since the early 1970s. As Youth Chair, Kelly has overseen program expansion from seven or eight clubs to 40 statewide.

“You look at the number of kids who have gone through the program and at the athletes who have come out, and it’s because of him and his dedication,” Snow Reaser said.

John Rolfe of Portland is a staff writer and a road runner. He can be reached at 791-6429 or at:

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