Running Pioneers Honored by San Diego Track Club
Donna Gookin, David Pain recognized for their contributions to running.
The San Diego Track Club (SDTC) hosted its 60th annual awards dinner on Sunday. Celebrating 60 years of running in America’s Finest City, the club introduced the inaugural Dale Larabee Lifetime Service Award, which recognized two individuals who have served as pioneers of the sport on a national level and dedicated a lifetime to serving the San Diego running community. The awarded honored the late Dale Larabee, a San Diego resident since 1972 who completed 62 marathons, seven Ironmans and ended his 43-year-old every day workout streak in June 2014.
SDTC presented the first award to Donna Gookin, known as the “godmother of women’s long-distance running” in San Diego. Gookin ran the 1972 Boston marathon, the first year women were officially allowed to participate. In the 1980s, she created “The Happy Wanderers,” a grassroots running group that inspired women to get into the sport. After starting the first-ever women’s running division at the Mission Bay Marathon, she won 10 of the 40 women’s divisions she competed in the races that followed.
The second award was given to David Pain, who conceived and organized the first age group’s master’s track and field competition for age-group master athletes ages 40 and over. From 1968-1972, David was meet director for the first series of U.S. Masters National Track and Field Championships held in San Diego. Pain is also credited with hosting the very first biathlon/triathlon event in 1972 that continued to 1989, which inspired a participant to start a similar event in Hawaii—Ironman.
“Both Donna Gookin and David Pain are truly great living examples of why this award was initiated since their lifetime service to the sport of running has spanned over the last 50 years, says SDTC head coach Paul Greer. “Many of the programs they introduced to the San Diego running community and worldwide still exist today.”
SDTC was founded in 1953 by a dozen San Diego State University track and field juniors and seniors in search of more inclusive, post-graduation competitions that didn’t require long drives to Los Angeles. In 1954, the club hosted an 8-miler against a rival club in Los Angeles. The course ran near San Diego’s famed Balboa Park and is now the oldest running road race on the West Coast.