Marla Runyan added to the Boston Athletic Association staff in a newly-created position
BOSTON – The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) today announced Marla Runyan as the organization’s first Athletes with Disabilities Manager. This position will dedicate its attention to the growing field of athletes with disabilities participating in all B.A.A. races and community service programming.
From elite push rim wheelchair racers and visually impaired runners, to handcyclists and athletes with other mobility challenges, Runyan will oversee the management of the athletes and the rules that govern them in B.A.A. competitions. Her work also will include the organization’s youth and community programming, where the B.A.A. provides opportunities for adaptive sports athletes to develop their passion for competition.
Runyan has extensive experience in special education, supporting children and young adults in both the classroom and adapted sports, most recently as the Director of Digital Accessibility at Perkins School for the Blind. “I am thrilled to join the B.A.A. and lead our programs for athletes with disabilities,” said Runyan, who will step into her new role in mid-August.
“We are very excited to have Marla joining us,” said Tom Grilk, B.A.A. Chief Executive Officer. “We look forward with great enthusiasm to the work that she will do with athletes in our races and in affording us the opportunity to develop a more robust program for bringing adaptive athletics to children and adults as part of our overall mission of promoting health and fitness.”
Runyan, who is legally blind, was the first U.S. Paralympian to also compete in the Olympic Games. Originally a heptathlete, Runyan earned five Paralympic gold medals across five disciplines before converting to an elite distance runner. She is a three-time US champion in the 5000 meters, and was the top American women’s finisher in the 2003 Boston Marathon, placing fifth in 2:30:28. Her time is the fastest by a visually impaired athlete –male or female—in race history.
The Boston Marathon was the first marathon to feature a wheelchair racing competition in 1975, and the B.A.A. has supported participation by visually-impaired and mobility-impaired athletes for more than four decades.