HOLYOKE — Those who take to the road in Western Massachusetts will be honored again on March 8 as the 2024 class of inductees are welcomed into the Western Mass. Runners’ Hall of Fame.

The organization that promotes and celebrates those who have made an impact while putting in the miles will host an in-person ceremony at the Holyoke Elks Lodge 902 on Whitney Avenue.

Board of Directors member Kevin Pfau said the objective behind the hall when it began in 2019 was to recognize some of the more prolific runners in the area.

“Western Mass. does have an excellent history of some amazing runners going back to the early days with the running boom of the ’70s,” he said. “Obviously there were some great runners before that but the boom of the ’70s, Western Mass. was in the midst of it.”

A group came together to celebrate the movement and those who helped create it by initiating the virtual hall of fame, which has no physical presence and profiles runners via the hall’s website, which is dedicated to the recognition and documentation of the athletes themselves as well as coaches and race directors, and supporters of long distance running

Pfau said the first class of honorees was inducted in 2020 and included runners from Southampton, Holyoke, Westfield and Chicopee, among other municipalities. More runners were added in 2022 and Pfau said the criteria for selection is selective and discretionary, but there is no shortage of athletes and supporters worthy of inclusion.

“We have a backlog of some great runners out there,” Pfau said. “We have some great runners who already made their mark but they’re still active.”

The group making the selection every two years tries to limit the number of those chosen to around 10, Pfau said.

“We can’t put in a class of 40 people,” he said. “The ceremony would last the whole weekend.”

That said, those under consideration for the class of 2026 already include some great runners and high school teams, he said.

Runners who participate in race distances of varying lengths are featured among the hall’s honorees
Among those first attendees in 2020 was Brian Goddu, among the founders of the Hall of Fame.

Following his death, the Brian Goddu Volunteer Award was named in his honor and is awarded with each new class of inductees.

Griffin’s Friends, an area group of volunteers dedicated to providing support to children with cancer, is made up of runners who participate locally and run the Boston Marathon annually. The group also provides training for long-distance runners while raising funds for the charity. As a result, Griffin’s Friends will become the first group inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of the 2024 class.

Also, part of this year’s class are Ric Bouri, the 1971 Western Mass., state and New England cross country champion, and Neal Lamberton, part of the running community since 1972, and the 2024 recipient of the Brian Goddu Volunteer Award.

Its website states that “The Hall of Fame honors a cross-section of those individuals that have put their energy into our sport to make it better for all of those participants.”

Information on tickets for the ceremony and banquet can be found on the Hall of Fame website at westernmassrunnershalloffame.com.

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