Marla Runyan

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Marla Runyan
Personal information
Full nameMarla Lee Runyan
BornJanuary 4, 1969 (1969-01-04) (age 50)
Santa Maria, California, U.S.

Marla Lee Runyan (married name Lonergan,[1] born January 4, 1969) is an American track and field athlete, road runner and marathon runner who is legally blind. She is a three-time national champion in the women's 5000 metres.

Runyan was born in Santa Maria, California. After graduating from Camarillo High School in 1987, she went on to study at San Diego State University, where she began competing in several sporting events: the heptathlon, 200-meter dash, high jump, shot put, 100-meter hurdles, long jump, javelin throw and the 800-meter run. In 1994 she received her master's degree in Education of Deafblind Children.

Runyan won four gold medals at the 1992 Summer Paralympics in the long jump and the 100, 200, and 400 meter races.[2] She also competed in cycling at those games. She attempted to qualify for the "Able Bodied" Olympics at the 1996 U. S. Olympic Trials, finishing 10th in the Heptathlon. While failing to qualify, she ran the 800 meters in 2:04.60, a heptathlon-800m American record. This success convinced her to try distance running. At the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta, she took silver in the shot put and gold in the pentathlon.[2]

Her career as a world-class runner in able-bodied events began in 1999 at the Pan American Games in Winnipeg , where she won Gold in the 1,500-meter race and was ranked second in the United States in that event in 1999 by Track and Field News. . The next year, she placed eighth in the 1,500-meter in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, making Runyan the first legally blind athlete to compete in the Olympics and the highest finish by an American woman in that event.

By 2001 she won her first of three consecutive 5000 metre National Championships. She also released her autobiography "No Finish Line: My Life As I See It" In 2002, she added the road 5K and 10K National Championships,[3] and married her coach, Matt Lonergan.

She finished as the top American at the 2002 New York Marathon with a time of 2 hours, 27 minutes and 10 seconds to post the second-fastest debut time ever by an American woman.

I just think it's pretty brave, Marla's very tough, really gutsy. She's been fighting all of her life, and it comes out in her running.

— Colleen De Reuck, Marathoner[4]

Being an international medalist at 1500 metres and a top major marathon runner is an accomplishment over a wide variety of distances rivaled only by Rod Dixon on the men's side. Medaling at distances as short as 100 metres and diversely explosive events like Shot Put and Long Jump is remarkable versatility.[5]

She won the road 5K again in 2003 and qualified for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games by finishing second in the United States Olympic Trials (track and field). She took 2005 off to give birth to her first child, Anna Lee on September 1, but returned to the roads in 2006 winning her second National Championship at 20 km (her first was in 2003).[6] She was the USATF "Runner of the Year" in 2002 and 2006.[7]

Arguably Runyan's greatest success came at the Paralympic Games, where she has been a five times gold medallist.[8]

As of April 2014, Runyan holds IPC World Records in the T13 classification for the 400 m, 800 m, 1500 m, 5000 m, High Jump, Long Jump and Pentathlon.[9] However, her personal bests at 3000m, 10,000m, and the marathon were also World Records, but were never ratified by the IPC. See, the Official Website of Marla Runyan.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill. "Marla Runyan". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC.
  2. ^ a b Results for marla runyan from the International Paralympic Committee
  3. ^ Monti, David (2002-06-01). Runyan Wins U.S. 5-K Title. IAAF. Retrieved on 2010-06-06.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Longman, Jere (October 30, 2002). "A Debut with a Difference". The New York Times.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-01-06. Retrieved 2011-01-09.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "Paralympic Athletics" Archived 2008-09-08 at the Wayback Machine, London 2012
  9. ^ "IPC Athletics World Records – Women's". Retrieved 22 April 2014.[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]