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Before a sold out capacity crowd, including a number of the members of the classes of 2020 and 2022, the 3rd Class of the Western Mass Hall of Fame was inducted last night at the Holyoke Elks.

Dawn Roberts, the President of the Board of Directors kicked off the ceremony and the crowd was entertained by the guest speaker, Bob Hodge, the 3rd place finisher in the 1979 Boston Marathon and the author of, “Tales of the Time”.

The unofficial theme of the evening quickly became evident as “Friends”, as each Inductee kept referring to the friends they made along the way.  And their friends came out to celebrate them: former teammates, training partners, competitors and families.

The Inductees Included:

Ric Bourie - considered the greatest runner in Cathedral High School’s history as a State and New England Champion (Ric passed away in 2006 and was represented by his brother and 2 sisters),

Mary Cobb – five time State high school champion in Cross Country and on the Track while at Pittsfield High School and 11 time NCAA All-American and 3 time Olympic Trials Qualifier in the 1500m,

Howard Drew – World Record holder at numerous distances back in the early 1900’s and considered the “World’s Fastest Human” at the time (Howard was represented by his grandson and 3 granddaughters),

Sue Haryasz – a local female pioneer who began running by having to race on the Longmeadow boy’s high school cross country team before excelling in college, and then on the roads, where she won numerous local races and qualified for the 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials.

Rich Larsen – age group winner and record holder at numerous National Championships at various distances as well as well as mountain climb races including Mt. Washington and Pikes Peak, and who is continuing to set records today in his 70’s,

Nicole McGilpin Smith – one of the best female road racers in all of New England during the 1990’s with numerous victories throughout including the New England Grand Prix Champion in 1992,

Bob Neil – one of the best area high school runners in the early 1970’s who also excelled at UMass before establishing himself as one of the best marathoners from the area qualifying and running in the 1980 Olympic Marathon Trials, and holder of numerous age group records as he continues to compete as a Masters runner,

Bill Romito – the “Marathon Man” of Western Mass with over 200 marathons completed including 37 and counting consecutive Boston Marathons,

Ed Sandifer – a +37yr streaker (ran every day for over 37 years), including 37 Boston Marathon, holder of national records and the founder and first coach of Western New England Cross Country Club and a member of the WNEC Hall of Fame (Ed passed away in 2022 and was represented by 2 of his former runners from WNE).

John Stifler – an excellent runner in his own right but an outstanding writer who reported and wrote for decades on the local running scene and was instrumental in promoting the sport in Western Mass.

Additionally, Team Griffin’s Friends became the first team inducted into the Hall.  Team GF’s mission is “to bring moments of joy” to children and their families fighting cancer and for 30 years they have done just that.  While not intended to be one of their objectives though, a by-product of their efforts has been the introduction of running to hundreds of volunteers who completed their first marathons and now support numerous races throughout the region.

A very emotional moment occurred when Neal Lamberton accepted the Brian E. Goddu Volunteer Award.  Brian was a beloved member of the local running community, one of the founding member of the Hall of Fame and one who was always helping at local races.  Neal, an outstanding runner in his day was a close friend of Brian’s.  He was one of the original runners on Team Griffin’s Friends and like Brian, he is always supporting races in the Springfield area.

The evening ended with Dawn Roberts announcing the awarding of 2 scholarships funded in the memory of  Lavender Towse, to high school student athletes, Genevieve Collins of Lenox Memorial and David Pinero-Jacome of Amherst Regional.


While no date has been officially set yet, the Hall intends to induct it’s 4th Class in March of 2026 and will be accepting new nominations to add to the backlog of outstanding candidates already under consideration.

Class of 2024 - March 8, 2024

Pictures from the 2024 Induction Ceremony

Guest Speaker Bob Hodge

Kevin Pfau with Mary Cobb

Ric Bourie's Siblings

Howard Drew's Family

Don Towse with Sue Haryasz

Brian Donoghue with Rich Larsen

Dawn Roberts with Nicole McGilpin Smith

Brian Donoghue with Bob Neil

Kevin Pfau with Bill Romito

Don Towse with John Stifler

Jim Kelliher with Sean Wandrei

Tim Gaudet with Neal Lamberton

January 2024

The Western Mass Runners’ Hall of Fame (WMRHoF) Board of Directors is excited to announce the inductees of the 3rd Class, set to be honored on Friday, March 8, 2024. Since its inception, the WMRHoF has celebrated outstanding contributors to the running community, with its first class inducted in 2020 and the second in 2022.


The 3rd Class inductees are:

- Ric Bourie, Longmeadow, MA

- Mary Cobb, Pittsfield, MA

- Howard Drew, Springfield, MA

- Sue Haryasz, Longmeadow, MA

- Rich Larsen, Shelburne, MA

- Nicole McGilpin, Westfield, MA

- Bob Neil, Holyoke, MA

- Bill Romito, Leeds, MA

- Ed Sandifer, Springfield, MA

- John Stifler, Florence, MA


In addition to these distinguished individuals, the charity organization Griffin’s Friends, who have supported children with cancer and their families for decades in the Springfield area by running and raising funds, will be inducted. 


Also, Neal Lamberton, a Springfield resident and runner who has volunteered his time to the running community for years, will receive the “Brian Goddu Volunteer Award", founded in memory of Goddu, a founding board member of the Western Mass Runners Hall of Fame.


The induction ceremony will take place at 6 PM on March 8, 2024, at the Holyoke Elks Lodge, 250 Whitney Ave. Bob Hodge, the 3rd place finisher in the 1979 Boston Marathon, multiple Mount Washington Road Race Champion, 40 year course record holder on the DH Jones/Amherst 10 Mile Course, and author of “Tales of the Time”, will be the guest speaker.


Tickets for the dinner and ceremony are priced at $20 and are available for purchase at


For those unable to attend but wishing to support the WMRHoF mission, donations are welcome via the RunReg website.


Established in 2019, the WMRHoF recognizes and honors the rich history and significant contributions of individuals and teams in road racing, cross country, and track in Western Mass.


For more information, please contact us at or visit

June 2022 

WMRHOF Announces 2022 High School Scholarship Recipients

The Western Mass Runners' Hall of Fame was pleased to award Sylvie Mahon-Moore of Hampshire Regional and Riley Cole of Northampton High School each $500 scholarships.

March 2022 - The 2nd Class Inducted

After a long delay due to COVID, the Western Mass Runners' Hall of Fame inducted its 2nd Class on Saturday, March 12th at the Holyoke Elks.

With society returning to some sense of normalcy, the WMRHoF was proud to announce the Inductees:

Runners included Charles Towse, Cheryl (Dube) Abert, Dave Reinhart, Mary Ryczek, Roland Cormier, Stetson Arnold, and Steve Snover and Race Directors included Ron Hebert and Dick Arsenault while Dick and Rick Hoyt are being recognized for their accomplishments as both competitors and pioneers. 

Additionally, Dave Martula was recognized with the “Brian Goddu Volunteer of the Year” Award.

The Guest Speaker was Joe Martino, the 1969 Western Mass High School Cross Country Champion from Greenfield High and the author of, “On the Run: Friendships & Finish Lines”.

February 2022 - Western Mass Runners' Hall of Fame to induct 2nd Class in March - Press Release

After a yearlong delay due to covid, the Western Mass Runners’ Hall of Fame (WMRHoF) will be adding their 2nd class of inductees this March.

The WMRHoF was founded in 2019 to recognize, honor, and record the history of individuals and teams who excelled in, or made impressive contributions to the sports of road racing, cross country and track while living in Western Mass.


The WMRHoF inducted its first class at a sold out banquet in 2020 and was scheduled to induct its second class in 2021.  However, given the covid crisis and the 2021 ceremony was postponed.


With society returning to some sense of normalcy, the WMRHoF is now proceeding with their 2nd class being inducted on March 12th, 2022, and the Board of Directors are proud to announce the Inductees:


Runners include Charles Towse, Cheryl (Dube) Abert, Dave Reinhart, Mary Ryczek, Roland Cormier, Stetson Arnold, and Steve Snover and Race Directors include Ron Hebert and Dick Arsenault while Dick and Rick Hoyt are being recognized for their accomplishments as both competitors and pioneers. 

Additionally, Dave Martula is being recognized with the “Brian Goddu Volunteer of the Year” Award.

The induction ceremony will be held at 6pm on March 12, 2022, at the Holyoke Elks Lodge at 250 Whitney Ave.

The Guest Speaker will be Joe Martino, the 1969 Western Mass High School Cross Country Champion from Greenfield High and the author of, “On the Run: Friendships & Finish Lines”.

March 2020 - Western Mass Runners' Hall of Fame Inducts First Class

Thanks to all who came out to celebrate the induction of the the Western Mass Runners Hall of Fame Class of 2020. What a great night! The Hall of Fame started as a vision several years ago when a few of us in the running community saw the need for a platform to recognize the talent and dedication of our fellow runners. Our first class consisted of members of the running community who were pivotal in laying the foundation of running in Western Mass and represented Western Mass on a world stage. 

February 2020 - Western Mass Runners' Hall of Fame - Press Release

Western Mass will soon add another Hall of Fame to its impressive roster. Unlike the Basketball Hall of Fame and the Volleyball Hall of Fame this new “hall” will be virtual with a website for the sport of running and to honor the impactful distance runners and influencers in the region.

Board of Director, Dawn Roberts, of the newly formed Western Mass Runner’s Hall of Fame (WMRHoF), noted “there are thousands of distance runners in Western Mass with numerous races held yearly, from cross country to road races, some for over 50 years, in our region. It is time to honor some of the individuals who have excelled at a high level and to recognize the people organizing these events that have made our sport such a popular one.” 

The WMRHoF inaugural Class of 2020 will honor 10 individuals at a banquet and ceremony on March 7, 2020 at the Holyoke Elks Club, 250 Whitney Ave in Holyoke at 6:00 pm. Tickets to the Induction Ceremony and banquet can be ordered online through or via a link on the group’s website. Tom Derderian will be the keynote speaker at the event; Tom is a long-time historian of running and author, who has written several books on the Boston Marathon. 

The inductees’ backgrounds and numerous other distance running history in the region can be found on the hall’s website: 

Fellow Board of Director Don Towse added “we plan to recognize not just the elite runners who have competed at the highest levels in New England and nationally, but also the people who made the race events in our area an important part of the sport’s landscape in our community.”

The inaugural class as voted by the Board is headlined by the late Tommy Leonard of Westfield , who founded the world-famous Falmouth Road Race and the Holyoke Talking Turkey Race, now in its 41st year. Also being honored is the late Nancy Conz, from Easthampton, a world class marathoner in the 1980s and Dan Dillon of Chicopee, who was a national class runner and represented the USA in 2 World Cross Country Championships.

Other inductees include Pete Statz, Bill Harbilas, Carol L’esperance, Dick Atkinson, Don and Sue Grant, and Walter Childs.


A special award will be presented posthumously to Brian Goodu for his decades long volunteer service to running in Western Mass

August 2019 - How It All Began

What is the purpose behind the Western Mass Runners Hall of Fame? 


In short, to recognize, honor and record the history of those individuals (and teams, in some cases) from the sports of road racing, cross country and track who made a positive or impressive impact in these activities while living in our region.

This website is dedicated to recognizing and documenting the accomplishments of athletes, coaches, race directors, influencers and supporters of the Western Massachusetts running community.

While track & field has been around for centuries and its close cousin, cross country for a long time as well it is safe to say the modern U.S. “running boom” pilot light was lit in the early 1960’s with President John F. Kennedy’s call for people of all ages to become physically active.  That initiative was followed up in 1968 by book written by Dr. Kenneth Cooper of Dallas called Aerobics, which expanding on the benefits of cardio physical activity via a point system. From there the flame became a bonfire with Frank Shorter’s 1972 Olympic Marathon victory on the streets of Munich which paved the way to the everyman’s guide to running, The Complete Book of Running” in 1977 by Jim Fixx that gave “permission” for thousands, then millions, to run the streets, tracks and trails of America in short shorts, sneakers and sweatpants.

This collection of events led to every part of the country “booming” with new joggers and runners and an explosion of races to show off one’s new fitness.  Including Western Mass!


So, who built the running community in W. Mass and what sustains it?  Who were the people and events in our region that lit our spark? How did it all get started?  Who were the top runners? How good were they?  

Looking back, the nerve center of Western Mass running, the connective tissue if you will, has been the weekly cross country and road races that run virtually all year.  Male and female. All ages. All comers. Fast and slow, young or old.  


Count them.  Monday night it’s Empire One’s 5K at Stanley Park in Westfield, Tuesdays it’s the Sugarloaf 5K at Community Gardens in Northampton, Wednesday evening it’s the 5K or 8K hosted by the Greater Springfield Harriers in Forest Park in Springfield and Thursday night it’s the Empire One 5K / 8K at Holyoke’s Ashley Reservoir.  Saturdays in the winter it’s the Harriers Snowstorm Classic 5K and 10K races. All with their own list of single age records by gender over the years.  

It is these “mom and pop” races, started and directed by the true running pioneers in our community that have fueled the souls of W. Mass runners for decades now.  These weekly events are, indeed, the connective tissue that binds us all.

And if these weekly races are like dances in the high school gym, the more glamorous, long time, high profile races are our proms – races like the Amherst 10 Miler, St. Patricks’ Day 10k, Holyoke Marathon, Father’s Day 10K, 4th of July 5K, Bridge of Flowers 10k, Paper Chase 10K (back in the day), Talking Turkey 6 Miler and some others that have come and gone.  It is these races that preceded the birth of the weekly cross country races.  


These races started with small fields and built up over time.  Early sponsors were generally not corporations but organizations like the Elks, Kiwanis, VFWs.  Once the boom hit in the mid to late ‘70s corporations began their sponsorships and prizes grew along with participation.  More women began to run, as well, a trend that continues to this day.  

Local running teams began to form like Sugarloaf AC, Greater Springfield Harriers and Empire One.      


These combinations of weekly races and high-profile events may not make us unique around the country but our guess is not many regions have the combination of race options we do with a history of diligent record keeping.

The result?  A vibrant local running community that sustains itself through the continued emergence of elite runners, seasoned, long term participants of races and a foundation of race directors and volunteers who keep the engine humming.  

This Hall of Fame honors a cross section of those individuals that have put their energy into our sport to make it better for all of those participants.  

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