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25. NINA KUSCSIK
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It is only a technicality that the Brooklyn native and Huntington Station resident was not officially a pro athlete when she became the first woman to run the New York City Marathon (1970) and was the race’s first repeat women’s champion (1972, 1973). Back then, the prizes were a laurel wreath and a bowl of stew. But largely because of this pioneering mother of three, women’s marathon champions now get six-figure checks. Kuscsik was inducted into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame in 1999 and the New York Road Runners Hall of Fame last year.
Notable quote: “People thought I was crazy. When I won Boston in ’72, now they understood what I was doing.”
(Credit: UPI, 1979)