The Most Influential Runners in the World
Why this list?
There are amazing runners in the world, with extraordinary stories to tell. Some have beaten cancer, others run with only one leg, some have managed to lose an incredible amount of weight or continue to set professional and personal records in spite of endless obstacles in their way. Still others simply love the sport, and love sharing their experiences to inspire and motivate their readers through their personal blogs and websites.
We’ve put together a list of many of these exceptional people and we’ve named it: “The Most Influential Runners in the World”. Maybe the title is too fancy, but we really consider these people role models that have influenced many lives, including ours.
This is not in any particular order. Some of you may appreciate some runners more than others. But we consider that all of the runners listed here deserve our respect equally.
The world is very big and we are sure there are many more runners that should be listed here, but they aren’t yet. If you know someone that should be on this page, send us your recommendations. You can also support this list by publishing the badges up top on your own blog/site.
Thank you for helping us make this section better! Happy Running!
Marcia gives you a little bit of everything on her site, an outgrowth of her two previous blogs, Running Off at the Mouth and The Studly Runner, both focused mainly on running. On Marcia’s Healthy Slice, she also talks about healthy eating, useful products and life in general, along with training and running, her passion. She’s currently a certified RRCA Running Coach helping kids, teens and adults of all ages and fitness levels reach their goals. Find her on Instagram: @rundefinitelyMarcia Kadens, Marcia's Healthy Slice
Hollie’s story is one of perseverance and drive, as she has fought her way through setbacks and injury to become a very accomplished runner. She slowly developed the love of running in 2010 and has had a very impressive string of top finishes and personal bests. She even currently works at a local running store. Her FueledbyLOLZ blog has running stories, race recaps, diner interviews, training tips and product reviews.Hollie, Fueled by LOLZ
Jason created his popular site, Strength Running, to help other runners avoid the mistakes that he made years ago that led to a serious injury. He wasn’t sure that he would ever run again, and was inspired to completely change his approach to training…and it worked. Today he is injury free, faster than ever, and thankfully sharing his knowledge and experience with the running community as a USA Track & Field certified coach, best-selling author, founder of Run Your BQ and contributor to various industry websites.Jason Fitzgerald, Strength Running
Dorothy’s story is one of the most inspirational we’ve come across, and as such she well deserves a spot on our list. In spite of being diagnosed with both social anxiety disorder and OCD, she found a way to break free through running, which became a passion for her providing a sense of pride, confidence and purpose. She’s run 31 marathons to date, is a certified RRCA and USATF Level 1 running coach and has been featured in dozens of industry publications. She’s also a loving wife and mother to three beautiful children.Dorothy Beal, Mile Posts
Tina took her knowledge of simple, healthy eating and along with a friend turned it into a successful custom meal planning service called Designed to Fit Nutrition and a new venture called Nutrition House Software. While helping people make healthier meal choices, Tina is also a CrossFitter and runner, NASM personal trainer, loving wife and mother to son Quinn and Murphy, an adorable therapy dog.Tina, Carrots N Cake
Kate has a great attitude towards life, and that positivity shines through on her popular blog, SoCal Runner Gal. She’s a marathoner, a marketing professional and a Certified Run Coach. Kate offers three different coaching programs, as well as race information, product reviews and posts about her everyday life.SoCal Runner Gal
Anna is passionate about running and healthy eating, and shares her stories on her popular blog Anna the Apple, so named because, well, she really likes apples! There she offers parkrun reviews, her race results along with PBs, and very helpful training information. You can follow her on Twitter for regular updates: @AnnaTheApple88.Anna the Apple
Angela wears many hats…she is a wife, a mother of twins, a runner, an RRCA coach and a clinical exercise physiologist, among other things. In addition to running, she loves spending time with her family, yoga, hiking, baking and snowboarding. On her popular blog, Happy Fit Mama, she shares recipes and workouts, and offers her coaching services as well.Angela, Happy Fit Mama
Kim, also known as Kookyrunner, is a real free spirit who grabs life by the horns. She loves to run, travel, shop and connect with others in the running community. On her popular blog she talks about her many races, “runcations”, fitness, health, food and more. You can follow her on Twitter at, yes you guessed it, @kookyrunner.Kooky Runner
Jill is a true inspiration because she hasn’t let injuries or an eating disorder keep her from doing what she loves to do…run. On her popular blog, appropriately titled Jill Will Run that she started back in 2008, she shares her passion for running and health and reviews various running-related products. She is married with a daughter and a boxer, is a certified running coach with RRCA, coached Team Challenge for four seasons, and works full time online.Jill, Jill Will Run
Charlie’s goal with her popular blog, The Runners Beans, is quite simple. To inspire others to lead a healthy life by eating well and exercising, and enjoying themselves in the process. She writes about running, exercise classes, traveling, recipes, dining and more. Charlie has completed five marathons to date, and is looking forward to another triathlon and more races in the near future.Charlie Watson, The Runners Beans
Ange is a true inspiration, as she has not let a lifelong battle with anxiety keep her from pursuing happiness. Over the past five years she has run a number of races including marathons, half marathons and her first triathlon. Ange is a certified run coach with her own coaching business and writes about running, food, her personal struggles and more on her popular blog, Cowgirl Runs.Angela Williams, Cowgirl Runs
Kristin is an inspiration to women everywhere, as she has somehow found a way to balance it all…motherhood, work, training, teaching, running, healthy eating and everything else in life. She is an ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor as well as a personal trainer. On her popular blog STUFT MAMA she shares her workouts, recipes, race schedules/recaps, Flat Kitty adventures and more.Kristin Stehly, STUFT Mama
Plain and simple, Lora just loves to run. She enjoys the physical and mental benefits as much as the sense of community that running fosters. She has been running marathons since 2006, and is a Road Runners Club of America certified running coach. On her blog, Crazy Running Girl, Lora talks about her running adventures, travel, hobbies, gear, accessories, nutrition, her cats…anything and everything that makes her happy. Her passion for running, pursuit of happiness and zest for life make her a true inspiration to all.Lora Johnson, Crazy Running Girl
Gelcys, also known as Cheetah G, is the definition of inspirational. In spite of a lifelong battle with scoliosis, numerous surgeries and chronic pain, she defied all odds to become an accomplished runner with the help of her devoted husband, completing full and half marathons, as well as many shorter races. On her popular blog, Runner Unleashed, she talks about her condition, running, training, nutrition and more, inspiring others to never give up trying to do what they love, in spite of any obstacles in your way.Cheetah G, Runner Unleashed
Eat Pray Run launched in May of 2013 to chronicle the three things that were most important to Courtney. A runner since high school, she has completed numerous marathons as well as some 5Ks, 10Ks, 10 milers and half marathons. On her popular blog she shares recipes, stories, race results, blogging tips, her favorite things and more. Her enthusiasm and zest for life are apparent in her posts, and she loves and values the community she has fostered.Courtney, Eat Pray Run DC
Danica’s love of running and writing is quite evident on her blog, Chic Runner, where she shares race recaps, product reviews, music playlists and personal stories. A runner since the beginning, she abruptly stopped when her mother passed away her Junior year in college. But she slowly came to realize that running made her very happy, and she made the decision to start running again. Today, she’s an assistant high school track coach and a mother to two young daughters and two rescue dogs.Danica Newon, Chic Runner
On top of being an avid runner, Abby is a teacher, a coach and a social media influencer. At Back at Square Zero, you will find marathon tips, race recaps and coaching tips as well as helpful resources for those looking to learn more about blogging and social media. She loves to help people learn, and is available as a running coach. Abby is a true inspiration to all of her readers.Abby Land, Back at Square Zero
Julie is not only an inspiration but also an innovator. She completely transformed her life and proved that you don’t have to be in tip top shape to be a runner. With her popular blog, The Fat Girls’ Guide To Running, she inspires countless women of all shapes and sizes to just get out there and run! She’s written a number of books and has had numerous speaking engagements, inspiring and motivating women all over the world.Julie Creffield, The Fat Girls' Guide To Running
Sarah has faced some tough challenges in her life, including a long battle with anorexia and bulimia, and watching her son endure several surgeries to correct a congenital birth defect. Through it all running has been her constant, keeping her motivated, calm and confident at the same time, allowing her to be the person she needs to be. On her blog, Run Far Girl, she talks about running, training, pregnancy and body image. She also started a women’s running retreat, Rise. Run. Retreat with fellow nominee Jesica D’Avanza.Sarah Canney, Run Far Girl
Jesica was born to be a runner, as her father was an elite track and field athlete who impressed upon her the importance of working hard to be your very best. She strives to challenge herself and give as much as she possibly can, and has become a highly accomplished runner in her own right. In addition to running marathons and triathlons, she’s also a new mom, a Brooks Run Happy Ambassador, a certified marathon coach and a co-host of the empowering Rise.Run.Retreat.Jesica D'Avanza, runladylike
Ali is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys running as well as spinning, yoga and working out. Battling Crohn’s Disease since the age of seven, she has maintained a positive attitude and inspires others with posts about running as well as her other interests on her “Ali on the Run” blog. She also has a great podcast every Tuesday and Thursday with guests including Mia Michaels, Natalie Morales and other inspirational personalities.Ali Feller, Ali on the Run
Kelly is a perfect example of someone who’s life was transformed through running. After gaining over 75 pounds after the unexpected passing of her younger brother, she decided to take a run one Thanksgiving morning. Although it was a struggle, she realized it was worth the effort. Since then she has never looked back. With her blog, She Can and She Did, Kelly hopes to inspire others who aren’t “born runners” to embrace a healthy lifestyle, and more importantly, believe in themselves.Kelly Roberts, She Can & She Did
Laura is an inspiration because like so many of us runners, she didn’t start off loving running, or any exercise for that matter. But as she approached her 30’s she knew she had to make a change. After initially finding it difficult, she started to realize that running actually made her feel more alive and happy. It became her passion and something that really made her feel good about herself. Flash forward to today, Laura is now an Athletics Coach and Level 3 Personal Trainer, women’s health journalist and author of two books, The Lazy Runner and Tricurious.Laura Fountain, Lazy Girl Running
Meghann decided to take charge of her life after years of unhealthy eating habits led to her being deemed “overweight” during her annual doctor’s visit. It started with better dietary choices and some casual exercise, and blossomed into a love of running that remains her passion to this day. Her Meals and Miles blog is her way of giving back, hoping to inspire people to make healthier choices and live a healthier life.Meghann Anderson, Meals and Miles
Several visitors nominated Scott as an influential runner, not because of the typical life transformation that many on this list have gone through, but because of his dedication to the sport. His popular site, A Trail Runner’s Blog, has been around since 2004, and it contains race info/stats, great visuals of all of his experiences, product info, research and general musings. He has 11 races on the slate for 2017, and his many fans look forward to reading about each one.Scott Dunlap, A Trail Runner's Blog
We’ve been following Beth’s runner career for a few years now. She is an amazing woman, truly inspiring. This nomination was sent by Ken, Beth’s husband: “I would like to nominate my wife, Beth Risdon. Beth started seriously running at the age of 41 when she trained for and completed her first marathon. She started blogging about her love of running in January of 2009. Since then, I think she has helped inspire many people to start running or take on running goals once thought unachievable. Her blog is titled Shut Up and Run because as she puts it we need to “Stop making excuses for your life not being what you want it to be and get out there.” I will confirm that she does take her own advice.Beth Risdon, Shut up and Run
Randall Wharton started running as a very unfit, overweight 39 year old in late 2012. He ran his first marathon in early 2013, immediately caught the distance running bug, and has been running them since, with ultra marathons and triathlons thrown in for good measure. His humorous blog, RandRuns, has become one of the most popular running blogs in the world. Randall was recently featured in Runner’s World Magazine.Randall Wharton - http://www.randruns.com/
Dick and Rick Hoyt
There are little words that can explain our admiration for Team Hoyt (Dick and Rick). For more than 30 years Team Hoyt has written a piece of history. Rick was born in 1962 and due to birth complications he was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. His father, Dick and mother, Judy were determined to raise Rick as part of a community, include him in sports, education and a workplace. They certainly succeeded, especially with sports. Dick and Rick completed their first 5 mile race in 1977. In 1992 they biked and ran across the U.S. completing a full 3,735 miles in 45 days. In 2009 Team Hoyt finished their official 1,000th race during the Boston Marathon. In 2010 and the years to come they will keep writing history.Dick and Rick Hoyt - http://www.teamhoyt.com/
Terry Fox was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and raised in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, a community near Vancouver on Canada’s west coast. At 18 years old Terry was diagnosed with osteogenicsarcoma (bone cancer) and forced to have his right leg amputated 15 centimetres (six inches) above the knee in 1977. While in hospital, Terry met with other cancer patients, many of them young children. He then decided to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research.He called this journey the Marathon of Hope. He prepared for 18 months(ran over 5,000 km). His Marathon started on April 12th, 1980. On September 1st, after 143 days and 5,373 kilometres (3,339 miles),
Terry was forced to stop running outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario because cancer had appeared in his lungs. Terry passed away on June 28, 1981 at the age 22. To date, more than $400 million has been raised worldwide for cancer research in Terry’s name through the annual Terry Fox Run, held across Canada and around the world.
Kim bikes and runs with a prosthetic leg, but the amazing thing is that she doesn’t believe this is a set-back, but a reason to push her limits more and more. We also admire Kim for her openess to help the others. She is the co-founder of The Canadian Forces Injured Soldier Network (CF ISN). This program is created to connect injured or ill soldiers to others in recovery so they can help and offer support to each other.Kimberly Fawcett: http://kimfawcett.blogspot.com
Karl is an Ultra Runner. What makes him an influencial runner is his impressive resume and his life goals. The list with his accomplishments is long, but we want to mention that he won not less than 50 ultra wins in 101 starts by October 2009. He is all time winner of Wasatch 100, Hardrock 100, San Diego 100, Squaw Peak 50, Bighorn 100, Massannutten 100 (2). He won 100 mile distance races 27 times. Karl’s goal is to reach 35, 100 mile wins. We believe he can do it 🙂Karl Meltzer: http://karlmeltzer.com
Norma is an amazing woman, mother and runner. On July 11 2009, Norma became the fastest female in history to run on seven separate continents in seven months (1272 kilometers). She is a mother willing to go to the end of the world and back for her son, Karl who suffers from a progressive condition with no cure, Cone Rod Dystrophy. Her next amazing quest is to conquer 7 of the most famous peakes of the world, on 7 different continents, including Everest. We support Norma and CNIB, Foundation Fighting Blindness and Operation Eyesight Universal.Norma Bastidas: http://www.normabastidas.com
Brian "TriBoomer" Brode
We appreciate Brian for completing 4 Ironman races until now and he doesn’t stop here. We also appreciate his openness to learn his children and the other kids that sports are a big part of a person’s live. We are sure his accomplishments will be even greater in the future. Go Brian!TriBoomer a.k.a. Brian: http://triboomer.blogspot.com/
At only 24 Stephanie accomplished something little of us managed to do: complete 23 marathons in 21 states (if we counted right). She is determined to finish 50 marathons in 50 states (by the age of 28). From what we know about Stephanie this will definitely be a successful challenge (and she will crash any other statistics done so far). She has all our support and faith.Stephanie Arango: http://50marathonchallenge.blogspot.com/
Helen is a wonderful woman and a very determined runner. She is a winner in life and in marathons. 11 years ago she won the battle against breast cancer. Now she is a dedicated supporter of Dana-Farber / Harvard Cancer Center. She is also part of the DFMC Pediatric Partner Program. In this program she chooses to run on behalf of children in need. Her results are amazing. Her help is very precious.
John has been chosen to be part of the influential runners we highly appreciate because of his wonderful determination to start running and quit smoking after 15 years of addiction. In 2009 John finished an olympic distance triathlon, a marathon and a half Ironman, all these after smoking a pack a day for fifteen years. Pretty impressive!Carolina John: http://trainingsmoker.blogspot.com/
Don is a hero from our point of view. At age 68 he is an active runner and his resume is pretty impressive: twenty-fourth state, thirty-some marathons all these completed after he received a multiple myeloma diagnosis, 7 years ago. Even so, together with Sunshine, his wonderful wife, they prove they “can make every day the best day of the year”.Don: http://minnesotadon.blogspot.com/
William is an Ultra Runner with an impressive resume. His running history started in 1972 and since then he has continuously dedicated himself to this sport. In 1997 he beat cancer, a never easy battle. As he confirms on his blog this battle was much more easy because of his great fitness level and commitment to a healthy life. William is and will always be an influential runner.William Sichel: http://www.williamsichel.co.uk
Andrew Skurka: http://www.andrewskurka.com/
Andrew is an Ultra Runner. His biography is impressive and the places he has traveled to may be only a dream for some. Besides his running history we want to nominate Andrew as an influential runner for his 2010 project: “The Great Alaskan-Yukon Loop”. This route is 4,500-mile long, around the state of Alaska and the Canadian territory of Yukon. His plan includes a quest never even attempted until now. We’ll follow Andrew as he writes some piece of history.
This is a nomination received from Pete Power: “In July 2008, Moire O’Sullivan, an Irish mountain runner, made a solo attempt on the Wicklow Round, a gruelling endurance run spanning a hundred kilometres over twenty six of Ireland’s remotest mountain peaks. After twenty one and a half hours I watched her collapse, two summits from the end. Battered and bruised yet undeterred, she returned a year later to
become the first person ever to complete the Round in less than twenty four hours. Though her primary love is mountain running, she now runs and writes around the world, everywhere from Congo to Singapore, from Viet Nam to Kenya. Her blog chronicles her current adventures and makes for a compelling, inspiring read.”
This message is from Christy, Cindy’s twin sister: “I would like to nominate my twin sister Cindy. She ran through her entire pregnancy back in 2007 and proved that not only is it ok to continue running during pregnancy, she developed a maternity fitness line along the way. Several years ago, it was almost unheard of to continue training and running during pregnancy. After extensive research and discussions with physicians, etc. Cindy emberked on a healthy running pregnancy and blogged about it along the way. We get so many thank you emails, inquiries and comments from ladies who were inspired to continue running or start running for themselves and their babies. They thank Cindy for posting the photos, running videos, etc. and sharing her
pregnancy running experience (even her labor video has been shared) in hopes of inspiring other women to continue running and fitness during pregnancy.” We found that many powerful women have followed Cindy’s example to run during pregnancy if their baby health allowed it. She is a truly inspirational runner example for all of us.
Erin came to us with a recommendation for Laura about whom she says the following: “Laura is a marathon maniac that is currently 2 states away from being the youngest female to finish a marathon in all 50
Editor’s note: Laura is a very ambitious runner. She decided to break the current age record (28 years) and be the first marathoner to finish this quest by 24 years and 10 months. On June 6th 2010 she
arrives to the finish line. Her story must be read as it includes great advice for those who go for the same goal.
Susan Hurley sent this nomination which we highly appreciate as an influential runner: “Dave McGillivray is one of the most influential runners not only because he has done so many incredible feats like running across the USA 2 times and running up the east coast and spearheading triathlons in New England and Swimming, Biking and Running for 24 hours straight and running his age every birthday etc…. and the list grows but he has raised millions of dollars for various charities and is the premier race director and founder of races all over the world. Dave has been honored by Runner’s World Magazine and is a leader amongst the leaders in the running industry. He remains humble – kind and dedicated to running and is truly one of the most influential runners! Dave even runs the Boston Marathon after he directs it every year – he is always the last to finish after starting the race.”
Dave McGillivray, http://www.dmsesports.com/daves-athletic-achievements
Tom Denniss is running 700 marathons in 700 days, and he’s taking his quest very seriously because he aims to claim the Guinness world record for the fastest circumnavigation of the Earth on foot. His inspiration: Forest Gump. His efforts: raise global charity for Oxfam. His journey is already in the second year and it will soon reach the end. We admire his efforts and we appreciate his ideals. An inspiration for all those who love running.
Tom Denniss, http://www.tomsnextstep.com
Do you know someone who deserves to be on our Most Influential Runners list? Use this contact form and let us know. Thank you!