Doris Brown Heritage

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Doris Brown Heritage
Doris Brown 1967.jpg
Brown in 1967
Personal information
Born (1942-09-17) September 17, 1942 (age 76)
Gig Harbor, Washington, U.S.[1]
Height163 cm (5 ft 4 in)
Weight51 kg (112 lb)
Event(s)400 m – marathon
ClubFalcon Track Club, Seattle
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)440 yd – 55.8 (1968)
800 m – 2:01.9 (1968)
1500 m – 4:14.6 (1971)
Mile – 4:39.6 (1971)
3000 m – 9:44.6 (1970)
5000 m – 16:36.2 (1978)
Mar – 2:47:35 (1977)[1][2]

Doris Brown Heritage (born September 17, 1942) is a retired American runner. She won the International Cross Country Championships five times in a row, in 1967–1971, and collected two silver medals in the 800 m at the Pan American Games, in 1967 and 1971; she placed fifth in this event at the 1968 Summer Olympics. Brown briefly held the world record in the 3000 m in 1971.[1] After retiring from competitions she had a long career as a running coach, and helped prepare the national women's team to the 1984 Summer Olympics. She was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame, National Track Coaches Hall of Fame and National Distance Running Hall of Fame.


Brown attended Peninsula High School in Gig Harbor, Washington. As a young girl, she would go on long runs on the beach near her family's home whenever she had the time not for any particular reason such as training for an event, she just enjoyed running that much. And as she grew so too did her love for running and eventually she would go on to become a world class competitor. After graduating from high school Brown went on to attended Seattle Pacific University from 1960–1964 where she earned her bachelor's degree in 1964 and a master's degree in 1971.

Her career as a distance runner was off to a shaky start due to the fact that she was a woman looking to be a competitor in a world where women and sports was still somewhat of a taboo in American Society. In High school, she was even barred from using the school track while she was in Peninsula High School so she ended up joining a local running club and was able to set a national record in the 440-yard dash. Later she began preparing for the longest event then on the Olympic program for women—and finished third at the 1960 Trials. But sadly, she didn't qualify her for the Rome Olympics. After she was accepted into Seattle Pacific University she began to run with the men's team but was not able to compete in the 1964 Olympics because of a broken foot.[3]

In 1966, Brown became the first woman to run a sub-5 minute mile indoors, clocking 4:52.[3] At one point in her career she held every women's national record from 440 yards up through one mile.[4] Brown is perhaps best remembered for her five victories in the International Cross Country Championships (1967–1971), and she also represented the United States at the 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games.[5] In 1976, Brown won the Vancouver International Marathon and placed second in the New York City Marathon.[6]

After her highly successful running career, Doris returned to her alma mater and coached track and cross country at Seattle Pacific University for four decades.[7] She was an women's assistant coach for the national teams at the 1984 Summer Olympics and 1987 World Championships.[1] Her middle-distance and distance runners on the track and field teams also give the Falcon track team a national reputation for excellence. Seven women have won AIAW and NCAA titles from 800 meters to 10,000 meters. And, en toto, Falcon men and women runners have scored at nationals 38 times in the last 28 years. Finally, in 2002, Heritage left the classroom after 33 years; she remains SPU's head cross country coach and assistant coach of track and field. Through the decades, she's made Falcon cross country runners formidable foes in NCAA Division II. Named conference coach of the year seven times, she's coached 10 of her cross-country teams to the top 10 at national meets. In 1996, the women's cross country team became the West Region women's champion. SPU has won the conference women's championships seven of the last 12 years, and she guided the men's team to the Great Northwest Athletic Conference title in 2004. Twenty of her runners have been named All-Americans, including two national champions.

Brown was the second female inducted into U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1999 and was inducted into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame in 2002. She won the first three official women's races at the International Cross Country Championships from 1967 to 1969. She won the American 1970 International race and was undisputed champion again in 1971.[8]


  • 1968 Olympics: 800 m (5th)
  • World Record: 3,000 m – 9:26.90 July 7, 1971[4]
  • World Record: 2 mi. – 10:07.0 July 7, 1971[4]
  • 1971 Pan American Games: 800 m (2nd)
  • Five national cross country titles
  • Five world championships
  • Named "Washington's Woman of the Year" by the Washington State Legislature in 1976
  • Inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1990[3]
  • Second female named to the United States Track Coaches Hall of Fame in 1999
  • Inducted into the National Distance Hall of Fame in 2002[4]


  1. ^ a b c d Doris Brown.
  2. ^ Doris Brown.
  3. ^ a b c "USATF Hall of Fame: Doris Brown (Heritage)". Retrieved November 8, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d "National Distance Running Hall of Fame: Doris Brown Heritage". Archived from the original on March 16, 2015. Retrieved November 8, 2010.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  5. ^ Raley, Dan (June 11, 2008), "Where Are They Now: Doris Heritage, former long distance runner", The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
  6. ^ Kissane, John A. (November 2002). "A Commitment to Excellence: The Long Run of Doris Brown Heritage". The Running Times.
  7. ^ McPherson, Hope (2009). "She Is Legend". The Seattle Pacific University Magazine. 32 (1).
  8. ^ International Cross Country Championships. GBR Athletics. Retrieved on April 3, 2015.

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