Nearly 45 years ago, ten men
met at the Paramount Hotel in New York City
and formed an organization that would challenge
not only the "Establishment,"
but the very future of sport the
Road Runners Club of America. One of the
prime movers that day was the late H. Browning
Ross, a former Olympic steeplechaser.
Ross, who passed away in 1998, was an outstanding
distance runner, earning eight AAU cross-country
championships, a berth on the 1948 U.S.
Olympic team and a gold medal in the 1951
Pan American Games for the 1,500 meters.
But it was his exploits off the track that
contributed so much to the sport. In addition
to forming and taking on the first presidency
of the Road Runners Club which today
has more than 200,000 members he
also single-handedly produced the "Long
Distance Log," the first publication
in the United States devoted to distance
From its humble, 1956 beginnings as a few
mimeographed pages that gave race results
and told runners about upcoming races, the
publication eventually evolved into Runners
World magazine. Ross used the pages of LDL
to lay out the plan for a nationwide running
club that would be broken out into various
geographic districts. He started with Philadelphia,
added New England and then opened a New
York chapter. It was the latter that openly
confronted the Amateur Athletic Union and
paved the way for women to participate and
for the sport to eventually be accepted
at all levels.
With many special prizes and age-group awards,
the RRCA competitions gave runners at every
level a sense of accomplishment. Distance
running became more and more acceptable
in the United States, and great runners
became more and more appreciated. Browning
Ross and the Road Runners Club of America
taught so many to not only understand the
sport, but also how to enjoy it.