ROAD RUNNING RECORD-KEEPING IN THE USA
Here is how I remember it. I certainly have some wrong memories. Corrections welcome.
I first became aware of road running records in the early 1970’s, when I began running in races. I became interested in performance and began some research. This led to the discovery of NRDC News, a newsletter published by Ken Young. NRDC stands for National Running Data Center, a name given by Ken to his enterprise. I found that Ken had, for several years, been contacting race organizations and compiling records.
Ken worked closely with Ted Corbitt, and NRDC News published lists of certified courses each month, as well as annual books which listed them. He also published lists of records. Ken was helped by his wife Jennifer in this effort.
At this time Ken’s “records” were completely unofficial, but they were recognized by the running media as solid. Ken’s standards were high, and have remained virtually unchanged to date.
In the mid 1980’s TAC (The Athletics Congress) was formed and gained government recognition as the governing body for track & field in the USA. Previous to this time track and field was only one sport among several governed by the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union). TAC wanted to reach out to the road running community to bring it under its aegis, and they formed the Road Running Technical Committee (now Council). Later TAC was renamed USATF (USA Track & Field).
Records were seen as important, and after some disagreements as to how it should be done the NRDC records were accepted as the official federation records, and were administered by the Road Running Information Center (RRIC). Run by Basil and Linda Honikman, assisted by Ryan Lamppa, it continues to this day, now operated principally by Ryan.
In my opinion the credit for what we have today goes principally to Ken Young. One man who thought it was important just decided to do it. It was hugely time-consuming. Most of the early course certifiers got their early training and information by reading NRDC News. When TAC assumed record-keeping duties, the course measurement part of the sport passed to Measurement News, which I started in 1982.
So, what we have was not created by the development of a bureaucracy. It came about through the effort of one man, and only when the methodology was already fleshed out was it incorporated with written rules and regulations.
Throughout the years the communication provided by NRDC News and Measurement News kept the various people involved informed of what was going on. Communication is absolutely essential to the functioning of the system. Ken saw this early on, and his pioneering newsletter got the whole thing going. Without Ken it’s very doubtful that we would have the excellent records we have today.