The National Black Marathoners Association is pleased to announce this year’s inductees into the Black Distance Hall of Fame.

Ella Willis 2017 honoree

Ella Willis – Detroit, MI

  • Youngest person, male or female, to win the Detroit Free Press Marathon (DFPM).
  • Held the woman’s DFPM record for 30 years.
  • Had three of the top five fastest times at the DFPM.
  • Finished eleven, sub-three hour marathons.

Loretta Claiborne – York, PA

  • Honored in 1996 with ESPN’s ESPY Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.
  • Her life is recounted in Walt Disney Production’s The Loretta Claiborne Story.
  • Her biography, In Her Stride, was published by WorldScapes.
  • She was the first Special Olympics athlete to run the Boston Marathon – her time, 3:09 (1981).
  • Her personal best time 3:03 in the 1982 Boston Marathon.
  • For more information, visit



Isaiah Douglas – Savannah, GA

  • Longtime running coach.
  • Member of the Savannah Pacers.
  • Running for 30 years.
  • Completed 201 races, including 44 marathons.
  • Has a marathon personal best of 2:52:59.
  • Qualified for the Boston Marathon 24 times.
  • Completed 17 Boston Marathons.

Ron Gregory – St. Louis, MO

  • Three-time (1954, 1955, and 1956) Missouri State High School Cross-Country Champion for St. Louis’ Sumner High School.
  • Set a national high school mile record on May 25, 1956 with a time of 4:19.2.
  • Held Notre Dame school records in thirteen different categories, including the half mile, mile (4:10) and two-mile (9:14).
  • Earned All-American honors in cross-country and track at Notre Dame.
  • Recorded a world’s  best for 880 yards on an indoor, 220-yard dirt track of 1:50.5 in 1960.
  • Took second place in the five-mile IC4A Cross Country Championship for Notre Dame at Van Cortlandt Park in Bronx, NY in 24:38.

Richard “Dick” Gregory – St. Louis, MO

  • Missouri high school mile champion (1951).
  • Championed the integration of high school sports while in high school.
  • Earned All-American honors in track (1951) for Southern Illinois University (SIU).
  • Set SIU records in the 880-yard and mile races.
  • Became the first black student-athlete named outstanding athlete of the year at SIU (1953).
  • Ran from LA to NYC in 1976. It took 73.83 days to cover 3,550 miles averaging 48.1 miles/day (1976).
  • Authored several books and is a health and nutrition guru.
  • For more information, visit


Anthony “Tony” Reed – St. Louis, MO

  • Co- Founder and Executive Director of the National Black Marathoners Association.
  • Certified Distance Running Coach.
  • Finished first marathon at the 1982 Cowtown Marathon in Ft. Worth, TX..
  • Completed 50 marathons in one State (TX)  – 2003.
  • Became the first Black in the world to complete marathons on all seven continents in 2007.
  • Finished 100th marathon at the 2009 Cowtown Marathon.
  • Complete running marathons in all 50 States. Thus, he became one of about 40 people in the world to complete the marathon “hat trick” (i.e. 100 marathons, seven continents, and 50 States).
  • Served on the Board of Directors for the Dallas Marathon and Running USA.
  • Authored five books and over fifty articles.
  • For more information, click here.


Team Marathon – Cleveland, OH

  • Running in Cleveland since 1982.
  • RRCA member.
  • Hosted the NBMA’s Annual Summit in 2007.
  • Home of National Black Distance Running Hall of Famers Frederick Davis III and Warren Elzy.
  • For more information, visit