Two Vermont high school running legends headline RunVermont’s 2022 Hall of Fame class ahead of the return of this weekend’s M&T Bank Vermont City Marathon & Relay.
Tara Chaplin of U-32 High School and Mount Mansfield Union High School’s Erin Sullivan Lane are part of a decorated five-person class. The long-running VCM returns Sunday morning for the first since 2019.
Chaplin and Sullivan Lane and the entire hall of fame class will be formally inducted during a dinner on Friday. They will also be recognized at the marathon.
RunVermont’s 2022 Hall of Fame class
Before becoming an All-American star at the University of Arizona, Chaplin started her running career at U-32. With the East Montpelier program, she led her cross-country team to three consecutive state titles and earned individual honors in 1996 and 1997.
On the track, Chaplin pushed U-32 to its first Division II state title in 1996 and was a four-time champion in the 3,000-meter. Her fastest time in the event in 1998 topped the nation by a high school runner. Her marks in the 1,500 and 3,000 are still Division II state records.
At Arizona, Chaplin was the first freshman in program history to compete in five national championship races. Her times in the 5,000 and 10,000-meter races were the fastest of any freshmen in the country. In her senior campaign, she won the collegiate national championship title in cross-country and was a six-time All-American.
Larson’s commitment to running began much later in his life and although he ran throughout high school and college, his early 40s is where his hall of fame career began.
One of the most dominant Masters runners (age 35 and older), Larson gained national spotlight for his success. In his fifth decade, Larson ran a 2:38:44 marathon and a half marathon of 1:13:29.
In the mid-2000s, Larson built a racing group as part of the Green Mountain Athletic Association and led the team to a national cross-country title in the 50-59 age category.
Growing up in Champlain, New York, Meiler didn’t start running until her 60s. Since then, the 87-year-old has been training six days a week to compete in senior games across the country.
Meiler runs and competes in the hurdles, shot put, pole vault and hammer throw events. Her most recent successes at the 2021 USA Track and Field Master’s Outdoor Championships included 11 gold medals, three age group world records and two U.S. age group records.
An accomplished distance runner, Pilla has competed in ultra-marathons. And like his hall of fame counterparts, he committed to the sport later in life. Pilla has led several GMMA teams to national championships.
In 2008 he began offering advice to runners in the Vermont community, leading to a distinguished coaching career.
Pilla has been instrumental in running trail designs and construction during the pandemic and coaching runners in pursuit of records, according to a RunVermont news release. He’s been a longtime coordinator for the Pace Leaders at the VCM. Pilla became the oldest winner of the Green Mountain Marathon in 2006 (48 years old) and the Vermont 100 (51 years old).
Erin Sullivan Lane
The Jericho graduate was encouraged by Mount Mansfield’s cross-country coach Sue McNamara to try the sport and the soccer player-turned-runner quickly climbed national ranks.
Sullivan Lane, who continued to play soccer for the Cougars, won the New England championship in the 1600-meter her sophomore year. As a junior in 1997, she became the first Vermonter to win a national title in the Foot Locker National Championships. She defended the title her senior year and claimed first in the two-mile outdoor championship. Sullivan Lane still holds state records in the 1,500 and 3,000-meter races.
At Stanford University, Sullivan Lane was the first runner in program history to win the conference individual cross-country championship and added several top-10 finishes on the track, including a conference title in the 10,000-meter event. She earned All-American honors twice (1999 and 2000).
The Spirit of John Ewing Award
Rebekah Thomas has been named the 2022 recipient of this award for her work with RunVermont’s Mini Milers program and her contributions to the community. Thomas has donated over 900 units of blood since college, potentially saving over 2,700 lives, and is a live organ donor, according to a RunVermont news release.
Thomas has completed in over 100 marathons and ultra-marathons and has participated in the VCM since 2001.
“It is with the spirit of John Ewing that we believe there are few people who have done more to offer positive, self-sacrificing contributions to our community than Rebekah Thomas,” RunVermont said in a news release.
The Spirit of John Ewing Award is awarded to those individuals whose actions in support of the Vermont community epitomize the principles of honesty, integrity, and an enduring care for all.
Disclosure: Free Press sportswriter Alex Abrami is a voting member of RunVermont’s Hall of Fame committee.
Contact Jacob Rousseau at JRousseau@gannett.com. Follow on Twitter: @ByJacobRousseau