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Veteran Mangan joins Class of 2012 in Hall

Bill Mangan had had a few days to ponder his new title of "Hall of Famer." It still sounds good, though.

"I was pretty surprised," said a member of the Class of 2012 in the Western New York Running Hall of Fame about his selection. "We all, as we get older, go on with our lives. But we have a boatload of memories. So this is really nice."

Mangan is part of the second group that has been honored for their contributions to the sport of distance running over the years. The others include runner Gloria Brown, newspaper columnist Mike Beebe, runner/coach/contributor Bob Carroll, and runner Jim Dunlop.

They join the 10 people who were selected for the initial class last year. They will be highlighted on the Hall's website, wnyrunninghof.com, and honored at the Hall's annual run on Aug. 31.

Mangan says he "absolutely" plans to be there, despite the fact that he lives in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

"We still have a house in Niagara Falls. It's the house we grew up in," he said. Mangan, now 46, wasn't one of those runners who seemed destined for greatness from a very young age. He sort of stumbled into the sport by accident.

"I went out at La Salle High School to play baseball," he remembered. "Baseball is a little bit of political-type sport. I got tired of the politics.

"One day they were were doing the mile run in ninth grade, and I ran the mile faster than anyone on the track team. The next year, I went out for cross-country."

Mangan still remembers how sore he was after the first day of practice, but he kept at it, and eventually he was running to school in the morning as part of his training. Later he transferred to Niagara Falls High School, where he led his team to a state federation title in 1983.

Mangan had some college offers but needed to get his grades up first. So he spent a year at the United States Military Academy Prep School, where he was ranked No. 1 in the nation for his age. From there it was on to the University of New Mexico, which was building a top program.

Mangan fit right in. He was an All-American there twice, and ran on the United States World Cross Country team. The veteran vividly remembers one busy week.

"On a Saturday I ran 5-kilometers in San Antonio in 13:51. From there I flew to New Mexico and then took a plane to run in the Penn Relays in Philadelphia. I won that (in 13:47), so I had two pretty good times in a row."

Mangan was good enough to qualify for two different Olympic Trials, but he couldn't quite make it to the Games. That's about when he realized that some dreams aren't going to come true.

"It's pretty tough for us to compete with 500 to 1,000 years of evolution," he said. "I try to call a stick a stick. In the United States, we may play baseball, or we may run some, but it's not like my dad sent me out into the fields to go get the cows. One of the realities is that in Africa, the kids would go running every day to get the cows. It's part of the culture. The miles add up."

Mangan, who now works in the nuclear industry, has some troubles with arthritis of the spine but medication has allowed him to keep running. He still has plenty of newspaper clippings, too.

"When my kids look at the articles, they say, 'Dad, were you this good?' "

Indeed he was. Here is a quick look at his Hall classmates:

Gloria Brown: She started running at the age of 46, and won her age group 14 times in national championship events. She was named to the USA Track and Field's Masters Hall of Fame at the age of 74. "My only regret is that I'm not still running," she said . She retired around 2000 due to injury problems.

Bob Carroll: Many people locally associate him with his days as a coach and for his contributions through Runner's Roost and the Checkers AC. But he was an All-American runner at Fredonia who still holds records there, and was a two-time SUNY cross-country champion.

Jim Dunlop: He was a nine-time All-American in cross-country and track for the University of Rochester, and represented the U.S. in international meets as well. Dunlop won six Corporate Challenge races and was a three-time Buffalo News Runner of the Year (1993, 1996, 1999).

Mike Beebe: It's a rare individual who can promote the sport without taking a step, although Beebe was a solid runner. His running column in The News appeared for 21 years, and Beebe did as much as anyone to make Western New York a running hotbed.

> Race calendar

Buffalo Marathon and Half-Marathon,

Hyatt Hotel in Buffalo, 7 a.m. today, 694-5154.

Telegraph Road Race, 14:18 of running, 9058 Road in Gasport, 3 p.m. Monday, 549-5100, ext. 237.

Brian Dugan Memorial Scholarship 5K, Lincoln Park in Tonawanda, 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Mendon Mauler Trail Race, 8 miles, Mendon Ponds Park in Mendon, 9 a.m. Saturday, (585) 732-1090.

Flight 3407 Memorial Race 5K, Clarence Town Hall Grove in Clarence, 9:30 a.m. Saturday, 636-0209.

Running Water 5K, Northtown Center at Amherst, 10 a.m. Saturday, 536-3004.

Run the 'Burg for Autism 5K, 4236 Clark St. in Hamburg, 11 a.m. Saturday, 572-3613.

Juneteenth Run for Health 5K, 585 William St. in Buffalo, 9:30 a.m. June 3, 830-6560.

email: bbailey@buffnews.com