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National Black Marathoners Association teaming with Baltimore Running Festival

As a college student in 1976, Tony Reed set a goal of running an average of three miles a day for the rest of his life. A few years later, he began logging his miles.

As of the end of last year, the 63-year-old Dallas resident had logged 43,500 miles, an average of 3.08 miles per day.

As much as Reed enjoys race days – he has run 132 marathons and became the first African-American to complete one in all seven continents – Reed loves even more his routine of leaving the house and clearing his mind during his daily run in the outdoors.

The co-founder and executive director of the National Black Marathoners Association, formed in 2004, also has made a lifelong goal of promoting distance running.

In conjunction with the Baltimore Running Festival, the association is having its 14th annual summit, and more than 300 members are registered to participate in one of Saturday’s races. The association’s Hall of Fame, created in 2013 to elevate role models for new runners, will honor two locals — Marilyn Bevans and Mayor Catherine Pugh.

“We pick a different location around the country and spread it out because we have members in all the different states,” Reed said. “This is our first in Baltimore. Marilyn Bevans is based here and it’s a chance to honor her at the same time.”

Bevans was the first African-American woman to run a sub-three-hour marathon back in the 1970s, having won the Maryland Marathon twice (1977 and 1979) with second-place finishes at the Boston and Chicago Marathons in 1977. She founded a running club in Baltimore in the early 1970s and still coaches cross country and outdoor track at Perry Hall High School.

Reed said Bevans, a charter member of the association, fits the bill for the Hall of Fame. On Saturday, she will serve as the honorary starter of the marathon. Also, the first 250 association runners who registered to run in any of the events are receiving a medallion honoring her.

“It’s good to have [the summit] here in Baltimore, and Saturday is a special day,” Bevans said. “I was a physical education teacher for 31 years, and the idea is to keep everybody as active as long as we can. Anybody, any ethnic group, I just love to see people run.”

The weekend is equally special for Pugh, an avid distance runner who founded the Baltimore Marathon in 2001. It has evolved into one of the biggest sporting events in the city with 22,000 runners expected to compete in various races Saturday.

Pugh has run three marathons and proudly knows the finishing times of each. She recalled a time when weekends were all about running for her, as she was competing in 48 races over the span of a year.

“It’s a very special weekend for me,” Pugh said.

“Who would have thought I would ever be inducted into a hall of fame, period? But to be recognized as somebody who really believes in running [is special]. My day starts at 4:30 a.m. — I run four or five miles — it keeps me focused and is a way to stay calm for the rest of the day. So this is exciting.”

The National Black Marathoners Association, which raises money for college scholarships, received a $2,000 donation from the Baltimore Running Festival at a press conference Thursday.

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