With the recent scandals, controversy and elitism that have plagued many sports, it is refreshing to recognize a pastime that unites communities and is accessible to virtually all backgrounds and abilities: running.

In Maine, running on roads, track and trail has become arguably the state’s most popular sport, with thousands taking part in events that support nonprofit fundraising initiatives. Three events in Maine sell out in one day – the Beach to Beacon 10K, the Mid-Winter Classic 10-Miler and the women’s Tri for a Cure – and others fill within weeks.

This year marks the 20th induction ceremony of the Maine Running Hall of Fame, an organization dedicated to honoring Maine running.

Founded in 1988 by Bob Payne, the inaugural ceremony honored Maine running legends and Olympians Joan Benoit Samuelson and Bruce Bickford, and has grown to nearly 100 honorees. Among national and world-class athletes, the Maine Running Hall of Fame honors athletes and coaches who are highly accomplished, but may be forgotten: for example, the 1956 Waterville High cross country team, which won the New England Championships, Bowdoin College coaching legend Frank Sabasteanski and Native American great Ralph Thomas.

Beginning in 2006, the Maine Running Hall of Fame began recognizing races like the L.L. Bean 10K, the Tour du Lac 10-Miler and the Thanksgiving Day 4-Miler – races distinguished by their superb organization, popularity and charitable contributions.

In a world where there is much divisiveness around politics, religion and professional sports teams, it is fitting to celebrate the individual athletes who run to support inclusive competition, personal health and fitness and fundraising throughout nearly every city and town of our great state.

The Maine Running Hall of Fame welcomes nominations for runners and races to be honored at this year’s induction ceremony, to be held Nov. 11. For more information, visit https://mainerunninghof.wordpress.com.

D. Todd Coffin


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