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Fred Lebow

Photo of Fred Lebow

Inducted: 1994, event director

Born: June 6, 1932 - Transylvania, RO
Deceased: October 9, 1994

Career Highlights

  • Oversaw the growth of the New York City Marathon from 126 runners in 1970 to more than 30,000 within two decades.

To countless millions, Fred Lebow was the New York City Marathon - the perennial enthusiast and tireless organizer who oversaw the famous footrace. As president of the New York Road Runners Club and race director of the New York City Marathon, he fostered the race's growth from a mere 126 runners in 1970 to more than 30,000 by the 1990s. Born Fischel Lebowitz, Lebow was a native of Transylvania who was forced to flee from the Nazis and later from the Soviets while still in his teens. After arriving in New York City in 1951, he made his career in the textile and garment industry. He took up running in the late 1960s to improve his stamina for tennis. He subsequently ran close to 70 marathons in more than 30 countries, including the inaugural New York City Marathon. As Club president, he created such original events as the Fifth Avenue Mile and the Empire State Building Run-up. And he built the Club from 270 members in 1972 to a high of 31,000-plus, making it the world's largest organization of its kind. In early 1990, Lebow was diagnosed with brain cancer. Two years later, he ran his first five-borough marathon in celebration of his 60th birthday, completing the course with eight-time champion Grete Waitz of Norway. Lebow was placed in the Hall of Fame by a special vote of USATF's executive committee on July 18, 1994, and a subsequent waiver by the HOF's board of directors. His induction took place on Aug. 23, 1994, in special ceremonies in New York.

Sports administration

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