Many in the running
world credit Fred Lebow with helping
to raise distance running to its current status
as one of the world’s most widely respected
sports that is frequently participated in world-wide.
Born in Transylvania, Romania, on June 6, 1932,
Lebow was not only an avid runner, but a racing
pioneer. He founded many major road races, including
the Fifth Avenue Mile, the Empire State Building
Run-Up, and the Women's Mini Marathon. He is perhaps
best known for founding and directing the world-renowned
New York City Marathon. Lebow served as director
of the New York City Marathon every year since its
inception in 1970 through 1993. He transformed the
marathon from a local event in Central Park with
55 finishers to the world’s largest marathon
with over 25,000 finishers running through all five
boroughs of New York City.
Lebow was the president of the New York Road Runners
Club (NYRR) for 20 years, growing the group from
270 members initially to 31,000 - making NYRR the
world’s largest organization of its kind.
He was promoted to chairman of the group in 1993,
and heralded as the trailblazer for running groups
In early 1990, Lebow was diagnosed with brain cancer,
and two years later, he ran his first five-borough
marathon in celebration of his 60th birthday. Lebow
died of brain cancer October 9, 1994. Throughout
his career, Lebow completed a total of 69 marathons
in over 30 countries.