Jan. 17, 2013
For immediate release

Former Rio Americano standout set national records as teenager

(Third in a series highlighting the eight members of the Sacramento Running Association’s inaugural Hall of Fame class. Today: Eileen Claugus).

Eileen Claugus looks back with deep appreciation for a running career that included national records, marathon victories and a spot as an alternate in the 1,500 meters on the 1972 U.S. Olympic team.

What the former Rio Americano High School and UC Davis star really savors, though, is the transition she’s made from intense, focused competitor to someone who enjoys running several days a week with her two Golden Retrievers, Kyley and Savvy.

“I guess for me I feel like the real victory is I started running when I was 12,” she said. “Now I’m 57 and I still love running.

“I’m glad I live a more-balanced life. I’m doing fine right now.

“I sort of made the transition to I won’t say a normal life, but I’m not a crazed runner anymore. It helps me.”

Claugus, who works as a counselor at American River College and lives in Fair Oaks, is scheduled to be inducted into the Sacramento Running Association’s Hall of Fame at a dinner on Jan. 26 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento.

Other members of the inaugural class are Rae Clark, Christine Iwahashi, Helen Klein, Billy Mills, Paul Reese, Dennis Rinde and Linda Somers.

“I felt very flattered,” said Claugus, who learned of the honor after running into Sacramento Running Association executive director John Mansoor during a trail run.

“When I look back I really appreciate it.”

Claugus started running as a member of Will’s Spikettes. She won numerous national titles as a teenager, setting a national age-group record for the mile with a 4:44.5 effort to win the 14-17 division at the national championships.

She set a national high school mile record of 4:40.7 that lasted for 10 years. Claugus placed second at the World Cross Country Championships in 1971, was an alternate to the U.S. Olympic team in the 1,500 meters in 1972 at 16 after finishing fourth in the Trials with a 4:22.1 effort and won the national title in the 2-mile run in 1973.

Claugus earned Female Athlete of the Year honors at UC Davis in 1975. She later did very well in the marathon, qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1984, 1988 and 1992 and winning the Honloulu Marathon in 1982, the British Marathon in 1983 and the San Francisco and Mexico City Marathons in 1987.

She ran 2:37:16 in finishing fourth at the 1982 Chicago Marathon and remains the Sacramento area’s fastest home-grown marathoner.

“There were a lot of benefits for me,” Claugus said. “I was a very driven person when competing and doing well. I was very, very disciplined.

“I loved the travel that went along with that. I loved the relationships I built. I built some pretty strong bonds.”

Tickets for the Hall of Fame dinner are $50. Group and table of 10 reservations are welcome and can be made at www.runsra.org.

The dinner, which begins at 6 p.m. and includes a no-host cocktail hour, will also feature the presentation of Annual Achievement Awards to the Sacramento area’s top runners in track, road racing, cross country and ultra running.

High school honorees include Trent Brendel, boys cross country athlete; Maggie Bell, girls cross country athlete; Bob King, boys cross country coach; John DuCray, girls cross country coach; Edixon Puglisi, boys track athlete; Madeleine Ankhelyi, girls track athlete; and Donene Vukovich, girls track coach.

Brendan Gregg will receive the men’s college track athlete of the year, with Deborah Maier earning the women’s track athlete honor. Other college honorees include Trevor Halsted, men’s cross country athlete; Sarah Sumpter, women’s cross country athlete; Rick Anderson, men’s cross country coach; and Drew Wartenberg, women’s cross country and track coach.

Olympian Kim Conley, the women’s track athlete of the year, heads the open division. Other honorees include German Fernandez, men’s track athlete; Lindsay Tollefson, women’s cross country, road racing and marathon athlete; Kevin Pool, men’s cross country and road racing athlete; Tim Tollefson, men’s marathon athlete; Jacob Rydman, men’s ultra athlete; and Rory Bosio, women’s ultra athlete.

Masters honorees include Marcelo Lerda, men’s cross country athlete; Karen Jeffers, women’s cross country athlete; Chris Knorzer, men’s road racing and marathon athlete; Midori Sperandeo, women’s road racing athlete; Mary Coordt, women’s marathon athlete; Rich Hanna, men’s ultra athlete; and Jennifer Pfeifer, women’s ultra athlete.

Seniors honorees include Kevin Ostenberg, men’s cross country athlete; Sara Freitas, women’s cross country athlete; Iain Mickle, men’s road racing athlete; Janice Kesterson, women’s road racing athlete; Jacob Nur, men’s marathon athlete; Rena Lantz, women’s marathon athlete; Lee McKinley, men’s ultra athlete; and Karen Bonnett, women’s ultra athlete.

The SRA will also honor several super seniors: Adam Ferreira, men’s cross country athlete; Yvonne Nickel, women’s road racing athlete; Mike Ammon, men’s road racing athlete; Richard Powers, men’s marathon athlete; Nancy March, women’s marathon athlete; Larry Cawthon, men’s ultra athlete; and Barbara Ashe, women’s ultra athlete.

Men’s cross country athlete Robert Seldner, men’s road racing athlete Ronald Gross and women’s road racing athlete Rusty Barnett are the veterans honorees.

The Sacramento Running Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding ways to encourage people of all ages and abilities to run. The SRA is committed to developing new, quality running events that appeal to a broad variety of runners.

SRA events include the recently concluded California International Marathon, the Super Bowl Sunday 10k Run on Feb. 3, the Credit Union SACTOWN Ten-Mile Run on April 7 and the Lake Natoma Four Bridges Half Marathon on Oct. 27.

SRA beneficiaries include the American River Parkway, youth fitness programs, local running venues and aspiring young runners.