Marla Runyan
Personal information
Full nameMarla Lee Runyan
BornJanuary 4, 1969 (1969-01-04) (age 55)
Santa Maria, California, U.S.
Medal record
Women's athletics (track and field)
Representing the  United States
Paralympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1992 Barcelona 100 m B3
Gold medal – first place 1992 Barcelona 200 m B3
Gold medal – first place 1992 Barcelona 400 m B3
Gold medal – first place 1992 Barcelona Long Jump B3
Gold medal – first place 1996 Atlanta Pentathlon P10-12
Silver medal – second place 1996 Atlanta Shot Put F12
Pan American Games
Gold medal – first place 1999 Winnipeg 1500 m

Marla Lee Runyan (married name Lonergan;[1] born January 4, 1969) is an American track and field athlete, road runner and marathon runner who is legally blind. She is a three-time national champion in the women's 5000 metres. She is also an athlete that competed in both the Paralympics and the Olympics, both reaching the finals.

Early life and education

Runyan was born in Santa Maria, California. After graduating from Camarillo High School in 1987, she went on to study at San Diego State University, where she began competing in several sporting events: the heptathlon, 200-meter dash, high jump, shot put, 100-meter hurdles, long jump, javelin throw and the 800-meter run. In 1994 she received her master's degree in Education of Deafblind Children.


1992 Summer Paralympics

Runyan won four gold medals at the 1992 Summer Paralympics in the long jump and the 100, 200, and 400 meter races.[2] She also competed in cycling at those games.

1996 Olympic trials and Paralympics

She attempted to qualify for the "Able Bodied" Olympics at the 1996 U. S. Olympic Trials, finishing 10th in the Heptathlon. While failing to qualify, she ran the 800 meters in 2:04.60, a heptathlon-800m American record. This success convinced her to try distance running.

At the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta, she took silver in the shot put and gold in the pentathlon.[2]

1999 Pan American Games and 2000 Summer Olympics

Her career as a world-class runner in able-bodied events began in 1999 at the Pan American Games in Winnipeg, where she won Gold in the 1,500-meter race and was ranked second in the United States in that event in 1999 by Track and Field News. The next year, she placed eighth in the 1,500-meter in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, making Runyan the first legally blind athlete to compete in the Olympics and the highest finish by an American woman in that event.

Success at National Championships, release of autobiography

By 2001 she won her first of three consecutive 5000 metre National Championships. She also released her autobiography "No Finish Line: My Life As I See It" In 2002, she added the road 5K and 10K National Championships,[3] and married her coach, Matt Lonergan.

She finished as the top American at the 2002 New York Marathon with a time of 2 hours, 27 minutes and 10 seconds to post the second-fastest debut time ever by an American woman.

"I just think it's pretty brave, Marla's very tough, really gutsy. She's been fighting all of her life, and it comes out in her running."

— Colleen De Reuck, Marathoner[4]

She won the road 5K again in 2003 and qualified for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games by finishing second in the United States Olympic Trials (track and field). She took 2005 off to give birth to her first child, Anna Lee on September 1, but returned to the roads in 2006 winning her second national championship at 20 km (her first was in 2003).[5]

Awards and recognition

She was the USATF "Runner of the Year" in 2002 and 2006.[6]

World Records

As of April 2014, Runyan holds IPC World Records in the T13 classification for the 400 m, 800 m, 1500 m, 5000 m, High Jump, Long Jump and Pentathlon.[7] However, her personal bests at 3000m, 10,000m, and the marathon were also World Records, but were never ratified by the IPC. See, the Official Website of Marla Runyan.

See also


  1. ^ Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Marla Runyan". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 2018-10-13. Retrieved 2018-03-31.
  2. ^ a b "Marla Runyan". International Paralympic Committee.
  3. ^ Monti, David (2002-06-01). Runyan Wins U.S. 5-K Title Archived 2012-10-25 at the Wayback Machine. IAAF. Retrieved on 2010-06-06.
  4. ^ Lieber, Jill (2002-10-29). "Blind, Brave and Inspiring". USA Today. McLean, Virginia: Gannett. Archived from the original on 2016-11-04. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  5. ^ "USATF - Statistics - USA 20 km Champions". Archived from the original on 2019-12-22. Retrieved 2019-12-22.
  6. ^ "USATF - Awards - Runner of the Year". Archived from the original on 2011-01-06. Retrieved 2011-01-09.
  7. ^ "IPC Athletics World Records – Women's". Retrieved 22 April 2014.[permanent dead link]