Doris Brown Heritage
Brown in 1967
Personal information
Birth nameDoris Elaine Severtson
Born (1942-09-17) September 17, 1942 (age 81)
Gig Harbor, Washington, U.S.[1]
Height163 cm (5 ft 4 in)
Weight51 kg (112 lb)
SpouseRalph Heritage
Event400 mmarathon
ClubFalcon Track Club, Seattle
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)440 yd – 55.8 (1968)
800 m – 2:01.9 (1968)
1500 m – 4:14.6 (1971)
Mile – 4:39.6 (1971)
3000 m – 9:44.6 (1970)
5000 m – 16:36.2 (1978)
Mar – 2:47:35 (1976)[1][2]
Medal record
Representing  United States
Pan American Games
Silver medal – second place 1967 Winnipeg 800 m
Silver medal – second place 1971 Cali 800 m
International Cross Country Championships
Gold medal – first place 1967 Barry Women's race
Gold medal – first place 1968 Tunis Women's race
Gold medal – first place 1969 Clydebank Women's race
Gold medal – first place 1970 Vichy Women's race
Gold medal – first place 1971 San Sebastián Women's race

Doris Elaine Brown Heritage (born September 17, 1942) is a retired American runner. She won the International Cross Country Championships five times in a row, in 1967–1971. She collected silver medals in the 800 m at the Pan American Games in 1967 and 1971. She placed fifth in the event at the 1968 Mexico Olympics. Brown Heritage briefly held the world record in the 3000 m in 1971. She was the first woman to clock a sub five-minute mile indoors.[3] After retiring from competitions she had a long career as a running coach, and helped prepare the national women's team to the 1984 Summer Olympics. Brown Heritage was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame, National Track Coaches Hall of Fame and National Distance Running Hall of Fame.


Born Doris Elaine Severtson, she attended Peninsula High School in Gig Harbor, Washington. As a young girl, she would go on long runs on the beach near her family's home whenever she had free time. As she grew so too did her love for running. After graduating from high school Brown attended Seattle Pacific University from 1960 to 1964 where she earned her bachelor's degree in 1964 and a master's degree in 1971.

Her career as a distance runner was off to a shaky start since she was a woman looking to be a competitor in a sport where women and longer events were still somewhat of a taboo. She was even barred from using the track while she was in Peninsula High School. So she ended up joining a local running club and set a national record in the 440-yard dash. Later she began preparing for the 800 meters, at the time longest event for women then on the Olympic program. She finished third at the 1960 Trials, but didn't qualify for the Rome Olympics. After she was accepted into Seattle Pacific University she began to run with the men's team but was not able to compete in the 1964 Olympics because of a broken foot.[4]

In 1966, Brown became the first woman to run a sub-5 minute mile indoors, clocking 4:52.[4] At one point in her career she held every women's national record from 440 yards up through one mile.[5] Brown is perhaps best remembered for her five victories in the International Cross Country Championships (1967–1971), and she also represented the United States at the 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games.[6] In 1976, Brown won the Vancouver International Marathon and placed second in the New York City Marathon.[7]

Brown returned to her alma mater and coached track and cross country at Seattle Pacific University for four decades.[8] She was a women's assistant coach for the national teams at the 1984 Summer Olympics and 1987 World Championships.[1] Her middle-distance and distance runners on the track and field teams also give the Falcon track team a national reputation for excellence. Seven women have won AIAW and NCAA titles from 800 meters to 10,000 meters. Falcon men and women runners have scored at nationals 38 times in the last 28 years. Finally, in 2002, Heritage left the classroom after 33 years; she remains SPU's head cross country coach and assistant coach of track and field. Through the decades, she's made Falcon cross country runners formidable foes in NCAA Division II. Named conference coach of the year seven times, she's coached 10 of her cross-country teams to the top 10 at national meets. In 1996, the women's cross country team became the West Region women's champion. SPU has won the conference women's championships seven of the last 12 years, and she guided the men's team to the Great Northwest Athletic Conference title in 2004. Twenty of her runners have been named All-Americans, including two national champions.

Brown was the second female inducted into U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1999 and was inducted into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame in 2002. She won the first three official women's races at the International Cross Country Championships from 1967 to 1969. She won the American 1970 International race again in 1971.[9]


Further reading


  1. ^ a b c "Doris Brown". Archived from the original on April 18, 2020.
  2. ^ "Doris Brown".
  3. ^ Turnbull, Simon (February 12, 2023). "Brown Heritage's historic cross country gold medal donated to MOWA". World Athletics. Retrieved February 12, 2023.
  4. ^ a b c "USATF Hall of Fame: Doris Brown (Heritage)". Archived from the original on October 18, 2010. Retrieved November 8, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d "National Distance Running Hall of Fame: Doris Brown Heritage". Archived from the original on March 16, 2015. Retrieved November 8, 2010.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  6. ^ Raley, Dan (June 11, 2008), "Where Are They Now: Doris Heritage, former long distance runner", The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
  7. ^ Kissane, John A. (November 2002). "A Commitment to Excellence: The Long Run of Doris Brown Heritage". The Running Times. Archived from the original on March 2, 2012. Retrieved April 29, 2017.
  8. ^ McPherson, Hope (2009). "She Is Legend". The Seattle Pacific University Magazine. 32 (1).
  9. ^ International Cross Country Championships. GBR Athletics. Retrieved on April 3, 2015.