Events: Masters ultra running
Reporting that she felt "absolutely wonderful," American ultrarunner Helen Klein completed her record-setting 2002 running season with a stunning marathon World Record for the 80 to 84 year age group. Klein shattered the previous record by almost 39 minutes at Sacramento's 20th California International Marathon on December 8, 2002 near her California home.
Klein's 4:31:32 marathon record followed three ultrarunning records this year. In July, Klein set two ultradistance World Records at 50 km (6:45:23) and at 12 hours (50.5 miles 1,094 yards) at the Jim Skophammer 12 Hour in San Mateo, Calif. She also set an American Record at 50 miles in that race. Preceding her marathon record race, she ran eight ultradistance races in 2002.
Reflecting on her own motivations and experiences regarding USATF Ultra Championships, Klein says "Ultrarunners are goal-oriented and we have a great sport characterized by sportsmanship, camaraderie, and a great deal of integrity on the part of our athletes." As an authoritative promoter of fitness and achievement, Klein sets an example with her running performances and challenges masters runners to participate in USATF championships. "I strongly recommend that any runner, masters or otherwise, try the ultra championships. It is a rare sport where athletes of all levels can meet and participate with the nation's best."
Klein's ultrarunning career started in 1981. Since then she has run 136 ultras and 59 marathons. In addition to running ultras, she and her husband, Norm Klein, direct numerous ultra events. The oldest 100-mile trail race in America, the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Helen Klein Ultra Races that has hosted USATF ultra championships are two of the Kleins' many contributions to the trail and road ultrarunning community.
Since the start of her ultrarunning career, Klein's talent was obvious. She was named Outstanding Athlete in 1986, 1991, and 1992 by TAC, the predecessor of USATF, and she is one of the four ultrarunner inductees in the USATF Masters Hall of Fame.