Contributed by Len Goldman
Ruth Anderson, a runner who pioneered women competing in ultra running events, passed away recently. Ruth was one of the founding members of LMJS which was organized as a running club in 1977. Ruth was 86 and spent her final years in a nursing home in Oregon. Her husband Johnny died just two weeks earlier, he was also a LMJS member. Ruth's running accomplishments were numerous as were her contributions to running and LMJS. She was a role model and mentor to many and friend to all. She trail blazed the way for women participating in ultra running events and became an inspiration for generations of women runners who followed in her footsteps. Ruth and her VW van were for many years mainstays at the Tahoe Relays where she captained the LMJS women's senior team. Ruth and her team members would pile into the van prior to the start of the Relays and follow their runners on each leg around Lake Tahoe, often finishing their journey after the sun had set. The LMJS women's veteran team (age 60 & over), of which she was a member, is still the course record holder for their category. For many years, Ruth and Johnny led the informal Tuesday night trail runs at Redwood Bowl followed by a b-b-q and runner camaraderie around the fire pit.
Ruth was a "late bloomer" who did not start running until she was in her mid 40's. In the 1970's and early 80's, Ruth was one of a small number of female runners who took on the ultra distances. She established many ultra-records over the years. When she finished Western States in 1983 at age 53, she was at that time the oldest woman to have ever completed the race. Another notable feat was being the first American woman to run the London-to-Brighton 54-miler (where she ran a 7:46:16). She raced until she was in her 70's. Ruth also took great pride in competing in the World Master Athletics meet and in 1995 was selected as the torch bearer to light the flame commencing the start of the event in Buffalo, N.Y. In addition, Ruth was an active member in USATF and their annual women's ultra runner of the year award is named in her honor. Ruth was inducted into the RRCA Hall of Fame in 1980, the USATF Masters Hall of Fame in 1996 and the PA Hall of Fame in 2014. Ruth and Johnny were the first LMJS members to be awarded lifetime membership in the club. There is an ultra race around Lake Merced named in her honor and the award to the fastest senior woman at the annual Woodminster Race is named for her.
While Ruth's accomplishments and records may fade with time, her legacy lives on and it's thanks to intrepid runners like her that our sport continues to thrive and bring new runners into its ranks every day.
To read more about Ruth's accomplishments, please go to this link: