of Famer Patti Dillon:
Former queen of the roads
never been a Honolulu Marathon women's champion quite like
and defiant in competition, yet vivacious and engaging with
her fans, Dillon was once America's sweetheart of the marathon.
was a media magnet, ferocious and quotable.
an April 14 feature by Douglas Perry in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram,
Dillon recalled her racing philosophy: "If you were
going to beat me, you were going to have to spit blood."
Rodgers, four-time winner of the Boston and New York City
marathons, called her "a high-energy gal with an infectious
personality and heart of gold."
held both U.S. and world records during her reign over U.S.
road races, but never won the event she loved the most:
the Boston Marathon.
grown up in nearby Quincy, Mass., it was her fondest dream
to win the world's oldest and most prestigious marathon.
between 1979 and 1981 she finished second in heartbreaking
defeats. Nonetheless two of her four U.S. records in the
marathon were set in Boston defeats.
in Honolulu, she was queen. She set course records every
time she won between 1978 and 1981. To this day, Dillon,
who raced as Patti Lyons and then Patti Lyons Catalano back
in those days, is the only woman to ever win four straight
Honolulu Marathons. She's also the only woman to ever set
four straight course records. Holland's Carla Beurskens
won eight times here but never was able to string together
four in a row.
(Thursday) at the Oahu Country Club, Dillon will be inducted
into the Honolulu Marathon Hall
of Fame and take her place alongside Beurskens.
Rodgers, and two other former Boston Marathon winners, Alberto
Salazar and Greg Meyer, will be on hand to witness the induction.
she first won in Honolulu Dillon was a relatively unknown
runner. It was only her fourth marathon and she got here
She'd lost to Julie Brown in a Nike race in Eugene, Oregon.
The race awarded Brown a free trip to the Honolulu Marathon.
didn't even know the first prize was a trip to Hawaii,"
"I went back east and got a call a week later telling
me that Brown would pass on the trip and asking if I would
like to go in her place."
already run three marathons in four months but she accepted
immediately. When Dillon arrived at the race and saw a plaque
with course record holder Kim Merritt's (Wisconsin) name
on it, she thought, "Hey, I want one of those."
She earned one in stunning fashion.
deposed both defending champion Cindy Dalrymple of Hawaii
and the course record by a minute and 34 seconds with a
"Then someone said to me, 'You know they invite the
winner back,' and I thought, 'wow!' " she recalled.
said that first win in paradise was the boost her career
needed. It allowed her to recognize her potential in the
marathon and she embarked upon deadly serious training.
That attitude led her to give up cigarette smoking and junk
food for good.
set American records for 5 miles, 10 kilometers, 15 kilometers,
10 miles, 20 kilometers and the marathon, and world records
for the half marathon, 20 kilometers, 30 kilometers and
She lowered the Honolulu course record to 2:40:07 in 1979,
to 2:35:26 in 1980 and finally to 2:33:24 in 1981.
it was a back injury she suffered at Sandy Beach after her
fourth win here that started her career on a downward spiral.
1979, Dillon, who always ran cautiously to start every Honolulu
race, passed Dalrymple at about 10 miles and took more than
3 minutes off her own record. "I threw up the last
few miles, and didn't miss a step," she said.
1980 she broke the American record three times before coming
to Honolulu and breaking the course record a third time.
"The third one was in the pouring rain," said
Dillon. "I couldn't even breathe it was raining so
hard at times."
1981 race was fueled by emotion, an energy Dillon always
knew how to harness. Her marriage to husband/coach Joe Catalano
was breaking up. She had left him at the airport and continued
on with her sister. "I gather my courage from running,"
was anxious to break the American record a fourth time.
She'd most recently set it at 2:29:53 in the New York City
But she as still under the influence of Catalano and followed
his urging to save her record push for Boston the following
vent her anxiety she did three two-hour runs the week before
the Honolulu Marathon, and then broke the course record
again.. That record held up until Beurskens broke it in
At the 1981 Boston Marathon Dillon set her final U.S. marathon
record in 2:27:51. "When I ran in Honolulu I raced
the sun," she said. "I just tried to keep the
sun off my face, and tried not to let my inner core heat
up too soon."
said the Honolulu Marathon course demands the "utmost
"You just can not go out fast," said Dillon. "You
can't run stupid."
Dillon was asked in recent years if she was glad she didn't
have to run against incredible women marathoners like current
world record holder Paula Radcliffe of England and Catherine
Ndereba of Kenya.
run 9 to 10 minutes faster than Dillon's best effort at
"I was annoyed by the question," said Dillon who
counts 1984 Olympic marathon champion Joan Benoit and middle
distance legend Mary Decker Slaney among the greats she's
beaten on the roads. "You always rise to the level
of whatever the standard is."
said Dillon is in a special class with Benoit, a former
Olympic gold medalist and world record holder.
still think of her and Joanie as the top two American marathoners
of all time," said Rodgers.
LEGENDS OF RUNNING