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Several 'Champions' have ties to Boston

By Barbara Huebner, Globe Staff, 4/15/2001

For his new book, "Run with the Champions," author Marc Bloom, a senior writer for Runner's World magazine, devised a point system to rank the greatest American runners in history. Not surprisingly, more than a few have connections to that little road race scheduled for tomorrow.

On top of Bloom's list of 30 men is Frank Shorter, followed by miler Jim Ryun, Bill Rodgers, miler Glenn Cunningham, and Alberto Salazar.

His list of 20 women begins with Joan Benoit Samuelson, followed by Mary Slaney, Lynn Jennings, 1960s middle-distance star Doris Heritage, and Francie Larrieu-Smith.

Something that might startle Boston fans, however, is that the John Kelley who shows up at No. 25 among the men is John J. Kelley of Connecticut, not John A. Kelley of immortality.

"His career collectively seemed to be extraordinary," said Bloom of the man known as Kelley the Younger, who won Boston in 1957, was an eight-time winner of the Yonkers Marathon (at the time considered the second-most important marathon in the US), was the 1959 Pan American Games gold medalist, and is a two-time American record-holder.

"In the lore of Boston, maybe he's been underrated somehow."

Johnny the Elder, 93, is included in Bloom's accounting of the "Best of the Rest," an alphabetical list of Nos. 31-100.

Running into Hall

Jennings, Craig Virgin, Bill Dellinger, and the late Fred Lebow were announced yesterday as the latest class of inductees to the National Distance Running Hall of Fame. Jennings, a native of Harvard, is a three-time World Cross-Country champion and 1992 Olympic bronze medalist at 10,000 meters; Virgin won World Cross twice, the only American man to do so; Dellinger was the 1964 Olympic bronze medalist at 5,000 meters and coach of, among many others, Steve Prefontaine; and Lebow was race director of the New York City Marathon until his death in 1994. Virgin paid tribute to Lebow during the announcement at the BAA Champions' Breakfast by saying, "If anybody in the whole world was resourceful enough to get back here from the other world, it was Fred, and he would have found a cheaper ticket than anyone else." Induction ceremonies will be held in early July, in conjunction with the Boilermaker 15K in Utica, N.Y. ... Louise Sauvage has won the women's wheelchair division here three times, but has no designs on bettering the retired Jean Driscoll's record of eight. "I don't think that will happen," said the 27-year-old Australian, who figures she'll retire long before she gets the chance ... Johnny Miles, at 94 the oldest living Boston champion, couldn't make it down from Nova Scotia for the Champions' Breakfast on the 75th anniversary of his 1926 win, but he had an impressive stand-in: the province's premier, John Hamm ... The 1953 winner, Keizo Yamada, is here and planning to run in the new 70-and-over division ... When defending champions Elijah Lagat and Catherine Ndereba were presented yesterday with their bib numbers, Ndereba's daughter, Jane, rushed up to get in the photo. Asked what Jane thinks of all this, Ndereba said: "She thinks mom is going to come in No. 1, and she loves always No. 1." ... Breakfast emcee Tom Grilk, BAA vice president, was the finish-line announcer for the 1980 Marathon when an unknown woman crossed the line first. Repeating the name he thought had just been whispered in his ear, Grilk appropriately proclaimed the winner as "Rosie Ruse."

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