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The Abebe Bikila Award is an annual prize given by the New York Road Runners club (NYRR) to honour individuals who have made a significant contribution to the sport of long-distance running. The first recipient of the award was Ted Corbitt, a founder of both NYRR and the Road Runners Club of America, who received the honour on October 27, 1978.[1] The award is named in honour of the two-time Olympic marathon winner Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia.

Abebe Bikila Award
Presented byNew York Road Runners
First awarded1978
WebsiteNew York Road Runners

Past winners of the award include: Olympic gold medallists Frank Shorter, Rosa Mota and Lasse Virén; world record breakers Paula Radcliffe, Khalid Khannouchi and Paul Tergat; and multiple major marathon winners Grete Waitz, Alberto Salazar and Joan Samuelson.[2][3]

While the award has typically been associated with elite level runners, particularly marathon runners, it has also been given to non-athletes. Fred Lebow – creator of the New York Marathon – became the first person to win the award who was not a professional athlete in 1995. The 2001 award was given to Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani on the basis of his dedication to the city in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.[4] The 2009 winner, long-time road running organiser and event director Allan Steinfeld, was the third non-professional athlete to receive the award.[5] The Rudin family, long-time sponsors of the New York Marathon, were the first non-individual recipients of the award in 2012.[6]

The award is closely linked with NYRR's annual International Friendship Run, a four-mile fun run from United Nations Plaza to Central Park, which is held immediately following the official award presentation event.[7]


Czech runner Emil Zátopek was the first foreign winner.
Olympic marathon winner Sohn Kee-chung of Korea was the first Asian to receive the prize.
Joan Samuelson was the second female athlete to take the award.
Year Recipient Country
1978 Ted Corbitt   United States
1979 Emil Zátopek   Czechoslovakia
1980 Lasse Virén   Finland
1981 Frank Shorter   United States
1982 Mamo Wolde   Ethiopia
1983 Grete Waitz   Norway
1984 Derek Clayton   Australia
1985 John Adelbert Kelley   United States
1986 Joan Samuelson   United States
1987 Sohn Kee-chung   South Korea
1988 Alberto Salazar   United States
1989 Bill Rodgers   United States
1990 Waldemar Cierpinski   Germany
1991 Alain Mimoun   France
1992 Ingrid Kristiansen   Norway
1993 Rod Dixon   New Zealand
1994 Juma Ikangaa   Tanzania
1995 Fred Lebow   United States
1996 Orlando Pizzolato   Italy
1997 Lisa Ondieki   Australia
1998 Rosa Mota   Portugal
1999 Tegla Loroupe   Kenya
2000 Khalid Khannouchi   United States
2001 Rudolph Giuliani   United States
2002 Allison Roe   New Zealand
2003 Kathrine Switzer   United States
2004 Stefano Baldini   Italy
2005 Mizuki Noguchi   Japan
2006 Paula Radcliffe   United Kingdom
2007 Not awarded
2008 Lornah Kiplagat   Netherlands
2009 Allan Steinfeld   United States
2010 Paul Tergat   Kenya
2011 Germán Silva   Mexico
2012 Postponed
2013 Rudin family   United States
2014 Norbert Sander   United States
2015 Haile Gebrselassie   Ethiopia
2016 Mary Wittenberg   United States
2017 Meb Keflezighi   United States


  1. ^ This Week in NYRR History Archived May 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. New York Road Runners. Retrieved on 2010-10-31.
  2. ^ Radcliffe named as Abebe Bikila Award Winner. IAAF/NYRR (2006-10-28). Retrieved on 2010-10-31.
  3. ^ Tergat to receive the Abebe Bikila Award . IAAF/NYRR (2010-10-28). Retrieved on 2010-10-31.
  4. ^ Litsky, Frank (2001-11-03). PLUS: ROAD RACING; Road Runners Club To Honor Giuliani. New York Times. Retrieved on 2010-10-31.
  5. ^ Gambacinni, Peter (2009-10-28). Allan Steinfeld Wins Abebe Bikila Award. Runners World. Retrieved on 2010-10-31.
  6. ^ Gambaccini, Peter (2012-10-16). Rudin Family Will Get NYRR's Abebe Bikila Award. Runners' World. Retrieved on 2013-02-23.
  7. ^ Peace, Love, and… We Understand that the Race Is Tomorrow Archived 2010-08-06 at the Wayback Machine. New York Marathon. Retrieved on 2010-10-31.

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