Jan. 4, 2013
For immediate release

Rancho Cordova runner encourages others with her Hall of Fame career

(First in a series highlighting the eight members of the Sacramento Running Association’s inaugural Hall of Fame class. Today: Helen Klein).

Ask Helen Klein what she’s most proud of in her running career and she doesn’t talk about any of the world records she’s set or the demanding ultramarathons she’s conquered.

She simply mentions paving the way for others.

The 90-year-old Rancho Cordova runner has certainly done that, her inspiring story offering encouragement to countless others hoping to get in shape, lose a few pounds or train for something special.

Klein, who has finished 143 ultras and 90 marathons and set two world age-group records at the California International Marathon, is scheduled to be inducted into the Sacramento Running Association Hall of Fame on Jan. 26 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento.

She joins the inaugural class of Rae Clark, Eileen Claugus, Christine Iwahashi, Billy Mills, Paul Reese, Dennis Rinde and Linda Somers.

“Hopefully I’ve encouraged other people,” Klein said. “That’s my main goal, to get everybody out running, especially because of all the obesity and unhealthy people.”

Many people have told Klein, a retired nurse, how inspiring and encouraging her story is. She didn’t start running until she was 55, launching a career that earned her a spot in USA Track & Field’s Masters Hall of Fame and included world age-group marathon records of 4:31:32 when she was 80 and 5:49:11 when she was 85, both at the CIM.

No one reminded Klein better of her contribution to the sport than a 5th-grade boy in a letter he sent her while she was training for her 75th marathon. She had spoken to his class as it was preparing for the CIM’s Kaiser maraFUNrun.

“He wrote, ‘You’re my hero along with Michael Jordan and Peyton Manning,’” Klein said. “‘I hope you finish your 75th marathon and I hope you continue to run until you bite the dust.’”

That was enough to inspire Klein, who still puts in five miles of walking/running every morning and goes to the gym three times week.

“I always throw in a run for that boy,” she said.

Klein recalled the 2002 CIM when she broke the world age-group marathon record for women 80 and older by 39 minutes as “the perfect day.” Five years later, she managed to shatter the world record for those 85 and over by more than an hour in the same race.

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 feature the presentation of Annual Achievement Awards to the Sacramento area’s top runners in track, road racing, cross country and ultra running.

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.