John Stifler to be awarded Road Runners Club of America Excellence in Running Journalism award

John Stifler has been writing about runners of all abilities for over four decades, from small races to major marathons.

The Florence native was recognized for his career and was awarded the Road Runners Club of America Excellence in Running Journalism award for 2018.

Each year, the RRCA honors individuals for their service to the organization and contributions to distance running. Stifler is the 45th recipient of the journalism award, which recognizes writing about grassroots, community-based running that is memorable, creative and inspiring.

Stifler was recognized at the RRCA National Running Awards Banquet and Ceremony on March 30 in New Orleans. The club also inducted three members into its distance running hall of fame: Nancy Ditz Mosbacher, Oscar Moore and Joan Ullyot.

“It’s very flattering,” Stifler said. “I am on that list along with Olympic athletes and stars of the sport.

Stifler has been covering the sport since 1974, writing pieces for the Valley Advocate and Sugarloaf Mountain Athletic Club newsletter. He has since contributed to New England Runner Magazine and was a longtime columnist for the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

In 1988, Stifler started writing a running column for the Gazette on a bi-weekly basis. One of Stifler’s fondest memories covering the local scene was the opportunity to write a feature on running legend Nancy Conz.

“She was probably the greatest runner to ever come out of western Massachusetts, certainly Hampshire County,” Stifler said. “Between 1978 and the mid-80s she was pretty much approaching world class. She won the Avon Women’s Marathon and she had to beat Joan Samuelson, she was that good.”

While the column came to an end, Stifler felt the impact his writing had on those throughout the community, even those who weren’t involved with running.

“What meant so much was that running is a community sport the same way that the kids’ hockey and basketball games are community sports,” Stifler said. “I got told frequently from people that they read my column about running even though they weren’t a runner.”

The freedom Stifler had with the running column gave him the chance to cover many topics and events. He covered Boston Marathons as a participant and through other local runners.

The experiences he had, and the recognition he received from this award, has given him an appreciation for the connection to the community that he values to this day.

posted Saturday April 6th