Abebe Bikila Award

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Abebe Bikila Award
Presented by New York Road Runners
First awarded 1978
Official website New York Road Runners

The Abebe Bikila Award is an annual prize given by the New York Road Runners club (NYRR) to honour individuals who have made a significant contribution to the sport of long-distance running. The first recipient of the award was Ted Corbitt, a founder of both NYRR and the Road Runners Club of America, who received the honour on October 27, 1978.[1] The award is named in honour of the two-time Olympic marathon winner Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia.

Past winners of the award include: Olympic gold medallists Frank Shorter, Rosa Mota and Lasse Virén; world record breakers Paula Radcliffe, Khalid Khannouchi and Paul Tergat; and multiple major marathon winners Grete Waitz, Alberto Salazar and Joan Samuelson.[2][3]

While the award has typically been associated with elite level runners, particularly marathon runners, it has also been given to non-athletes. Fred Lebow – creator of the New York Marathon – became the first person to win the award who was not a professional athlete in 1995. The 2001 award was given to Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani on the basis of his dedication to the city in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.[4] The 2009 winner, long-time road running organiser and event director Allan Steinfeld, was the third non-professional athlete to receive the award.[5]The Rudin family, long-time sponsors of the New York Marathon, were the first non-individual recipients of the award in 2012.[6]

The award is closely linked with NYRR's annual International Friendship Run, a four mile fun run from United Nations Plaza to Central Park, which is held immediately following the official award presentation event.[7]


Czech runner Emil Zátopek was the first foreign winner.
Olympic marathon winner Sohn Kee-chung of Korea was the first Asian to receive the prize.
Joan Samuelson was the second female athlete to take the award.
Year Recipient Country
1978 Ted Corbitt  United States
1979 Emil Zátopek  Czechoslovakia
1980 Lasse Virén  Finland
1981 Frank Shorter  United States
1982 Mamo Wolde  Ethiopia
1983 Grete Waitz  Norway
1984 Derek Clayton  Australia
1985 John Adelbert Kelley  United States
1986 Joan Samuelson  United States
1987 Sohn Kee-chung  South Korea
1988 Alberto Salazar  United States
1989 Bill Rodgers  United States
1990 Waldemar Cierpinski  Germany
1991 Alain Mimoun  France
1992 Ingrid Kristiansen  Norway
1993 Rod Dixon  New Zealand
1994 Juma Ikangaa  Tanzania
1995 Fred Lebow  United States
1996 Orlando Pizzolato  Italy
1997 Lisa Ondieki  Australia
1998 Rosa Mota  Portugal
1999 Tegla Loroupe  Kenya
2000 Khalid Khannouchi  United States
2001 Rudolph Giuliani  United States
2002 Allison Roe  New Zealand
2003 Kathrine Switzer  United States
2004 Stefano Baldini  Italy
2005 Mizuki Noguchi  Japan
2006 Paula Radcliffe  United Kingdom
2007 Not awarded
2008 Lornah Kiplagat  Kenya
2009 Allan Steinfeld  United States
2010 Paul Tergat  Kenya
2011 Germán Silva  Mexico
2012 Rudin family  United States


  1. ^ This Week in NYRR History. New York Road Runners. Retrieved on 2010-10-31.
  2. ^ Radcliffe named as Abebe Bikila Award Winner. IAAF/NYRR (2006-10-28). Retrieved on 2010-10-31.
  3. ^ Tergat to receive the Abebe Bikila Award . IAAF/NYRR (2010-10-28). Retrieved on 2010-10-31.
  4. ^ Litsky, Frank (2001-11-03). PLUS: ROAD RACING; Road Runners Club To Honor Giuliani. New York Times. Retrieved on 2010-10-31.
  5. ^ Gambacinni, Peter (2009-10-28). Allan Steinfeld Wins Abebe Bikila Award. Runners World. Retrieved on 2010-10-31.
  6. ^ Gambaccini, Peter (2012-10-16). Rudin Family Will Get NYRR's Abebe Bikila Award. Runners' World. Retrieved on 2013-02-23.
  7. ^ Peace, Love, and… We Understand that the Race Is Tomorrow. New York Marathon. Retrieved on 2010-10-31.

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