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Mary Cobb

Class of 2024

Pittsfield, MA

    The purpose of this Western Mass Runners’ Hall of Fame is to capture the history and tradition of running in our region, and deeply embedded in that history is the Berkshire Community College Mothers’ Day Race.  Started by Kathy Korte, the Mother’s Day race has been run for nearly 50 years and is the oldest “female only” race in the US.  It is a deeply rooted tradition in the Pittsfield area which has been shared and enjoyed by thousands of mothers and daughters over the years.

    And for Mary Cobb, the BCC Mother’s Day Race is where it all began. 

    When Mary was around 8 or 9, her Mom started bringing her and her sisters to the race every year.  Mary recalls how as a family they would take a few training runs each year on the course to prepare, and then how on race day they would be so excited to run and how much fun they all had.  

    From those early beginnings, Mary then made her lasting mark at Pittsfield High School (PHS) where she became arguably the greatest female high school runner from Western Mass, and her name is always in the conversation with the best from our State,

    She only ran for 3 years at PHS, as she moved to California for her Junior year before moving back for her Senior year.  In each of her 3 years here she won the WMass Cross Country and Mile titles and at the State level she won the Cross Country title in her Sophomore and Senior years, and she won the Mile title all 3 years! 

    On the track, over her three years, she never lost a single high school race in the State of Massachusetts!

    At PHS she was coached by Tom Stanley (Cross Country) and Rob Colanuono (Track), and she credits them, along with her family and her teammates for maintaining a healthy environment for her – one where she could run and compete while having fun and staying healthy.   Despite the records and titles, they all “stayed in the moment” and Mary attributes that to much of her success.  Looking back, her move junior year to California may not have produced the most notable running stats, but she acknowledges that experience as also having a critical impact on her future success, as it helped her realize how good WMass was for her and how much she loved running.

    When she won her first State Cross Country title in 1992, she recalls sharing the podium with Matt Behl from Southwick, who won the Boys title, and thinking at the time that it was somewhat special, two champions at the state level, both from WMass.

    She loved her PHS teams, she was proud to represent Berkshire County and she respected the depth of the talent that she competed against in her conference.  As noted previously, Mary “stayed in the moment” and she enjoyed all her races and the competition, but she does recall one goal that she set for herself; senior year she really wanted to make the US Junior National team and run her country at the IAAF Junior World Cross Country Championships in England.  And that she did, traveling to England in the spring of 1995 and proudly representing the US with her 25th place finish. 

    When she came back home, she closed out her high school career by winning her 3rd WMass Mile title, setting the meet and state record with a 4:41, her 3rd State Mile title, the National Mile title and the Penn Relay 3000M title!  All those accomplishments led to her being named Gatorade’s Female High School Track & Field Athlete of the Year.

    After leaving Pittsfield High, Mary ran for Stanford University where she was an 11 time All-American and she qualified for the US Olympic Trials in the 1500m in 1996, 2000 and 2004.

    When asked what advice she might have for high school girls today, Mary noted two items; she stressed the need to “give one’s body time to rest and recover” and perhaps thinking back on the contributions of her family, coaches, and teammates, she added, “and keep it fun”.

    Her PHS track coach, Rob Colantuono, recalls Mary as being so easy to coach and shared a story of being at the Penn Relays with her:

                 “We were sitting in the bleachers looking over some of the seed times and Mary said,                       “Coach, these girls are good!”.  And I responded, “yes, they are Mary….and so are you!”

                  And Mary proceeded to go down on the track and beat them all!”


    Mary’s victories are too numerous to list but some highlights include:

                    1991 WMass Cross Country Champion

                    1992 WMass and State Mile Champion

                    1992 WMass and State Cross Country Champion

                    1993 WMass, State and New England Mile Champion

                    1994 WMass, State and Footlocker Eastern Region Cross Country Champion

                    1995 IAAF World Cross Country Junor Championships – 25th place

                    1995 WMass, State and National Mile Champion, Penn Relay 3000m Champion

                    1995 Gatorade Track & Field Player of the Year

                    11 Time NCAA All-American:

                              Cross Country - 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998

                              Indoor & Outdoor Track – 3K, 5K and DMR in 1996 - 1999

                              US Olympic Trials Qualifier in the 1500m: 1996, 2000 and 2004


    From Mother’s Day races with her Mom and sisters, to the Junior World Cross Country Championships and to the US Olympic Track Trials - it has been over 30 years since she initially made her mark in Western Mass, and the region has not seen the likes of Mary Cobb since. 

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